National camp for Thomas, Uber Cups all set to start at Gopichand Academy

Twenty-six Indian badminton players, including Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal, will attend the national camp in Hyderabad from September 7

By Utathya Nag

The Sports Authority of India (SAI), on Sunday, greenlit a preparatory badminton national camp for the upcoming Thomas and Uber Cups, which begin in Denmark from October 3.

The camp involving 26 national level shuttlers, including Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal, will be held from September 7 to 27 at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad.

The initiative to prepare the players for the upcoming tournament was proposed by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand.

B Sai Praneeth, Parupalli Kashyap, Kidambi Srikanth, N Sikki Reddy, Ashwini Ponappa and Nehwal are some of the big names invited to the camp. 

The players will be joined by seven coaches, four support staff and three sparring partners.

Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal and husband Parupalli Kashyap will both be a part of the national camp.

Rio 2016 silver medallist PV Sindhu, who pulled out of the Uber Cup citing personal reasons, is expected to sit out.

“I am very happy that SAI and BAI have been proactive in ensuring that sporting activities can start early,” Gopichand said. 

“I am happy this camp is starting because the Thomas and Uber Cups are important tournaments and I hope we get some good results there.”

N Sikki Reddy shared similar sentiments. 

“Looking at the competition it is good to have team practice and members from other states. We missed training in a group and training in a group motivates the players to do better.”

Strict COVID safety protocols in place

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in mind, the camp will abide by strict safety protocols laid down by SAI.

As per the guidelines, all participating players, coaches and support staff will need to undergo mandatory RT-PCR tests for coronavirus before they travel to Hyderabad. They will only be allowed inside the academy once they produce a COVID-19 negative certificate.

Once in the academy premises, the attendees will be isolated and tested again on the sixth day of their mandatory quarantine period. They will only be allowed on the badminton court once they have cleared the second round of COVID -19 test.

To mitigate risks, everyone involved will be housed inside the academy throughout the duration of the camp.

SAI's assistant director Dr Monika is being sent to Pullela Gopichand Academy to educate players and staff on the processes and protocols to be followed.