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Olympic medal tough to get, but not impossible: Padukone

July 21, 2008 19:45 IST

Badminton ace Prakash Padukone held out reasonably good hope for India's Beijing Olympic hopefuls Anup Sridhar and Saina Nehwal, saying their task of climbing the medal rostrum at Beijing is difficult but not impossible.

"The best shuttlers will be present and it will be a difficult task. But it's going to be a 32-strong draw and one or two victories over seeded players can see them into the semi-finals. You can't rule out a medal," he told at a media conference, in Mumbai, to announce the tie-up of his academy with the Tata group of companies.

Both Sridhar and Saina are likely to play in the first Tata Open badminton tournament, in Mumbai from July 27-31, prior to leaving for the Beijing Games, starting on August 8.

Padukone also used the opportunity to call for a revamp of the domestic badminton circuit for senior shuttlers.

"There are only four or five tournaments for seniors which is not enough. The domestic structure needs to be strengthened to enable the emerging players who are not yet into the international circuit improve their game," he said.

"I had written to the BAI (Badminton Association of India) that such a structure is important to build a second line. To produce quality players, the right mixture of camps and tournaments is needed and a good domestic structure is the key to success," he explained.

"When I started, shuttle badminton was not very popular in south India and I had to struggle. The main reason for starting an academy is to see that the players of today don't have to undergo the hardships which I underwent. My aim is to produce players like Rudy Hartono (Indonesia), who won the All England crown eight times," he said.

The 1980 All England men's singles winner picked Andhra Pradesh as the state which stands atop Indian badminton's hierarchy, placing his own home state of Karnataka second.

He also suggested a national badminton league like cricket's IPL, though on smaller scale.

"A national league, on a smaller scale than the IPL and on the lines of Danish or Swedish league will definitely help," he said.