Pullela Gopichand believes Indian badminton is in good hands

The former All England champion and national coach feels Saina and Sindhu's Olympic medals have given badminton the push it needed.

By Rahul Venkat

The amazing achievements of Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth, have been the biggest advertisement for Indian badminton, says national chief coach and former Olympian Pullela Gopichand.

“I can say that this sport has developed the most in the country in these past 10 years or so,” Gopichand told PTI. “There are so many academies coming up in the country.”

Gopichand, who won the 2001 All England champion, switched to coaching in 2004 and produced two Olympic medallists in  Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. Both are graduates from his academy in Hyderabad.

Recognised by the International Olympic Committee for his contribution to badminton, Gopichand says the attraction for the sport has grown exponentially and he is a much sought after man.

“So many kids from all over the country, Punjab, Mizoram and even abroad, come to my academy to train,” the 46-year-old Gopichand said.

“In some cases, even parents stay with their children in Hyderabad to make sure training happens properly. So, I believe badminton is well poised for the future.

“Moreover, the cost of the shuttle will go down in the next few years with the introduction of the synthetic shuttle. That should make the sport flourish even more,” he reckoned.

Gopichand has played a key role in generating the interest in badminton in India. Photo: PV Sindhu/Facebook

‘A great all-round sport’

The passion that Pullela Gopichand has for badminton is unbelievable. After his career was scuppered by injury, he took to coaching to give back to a sport that established him as a top sportsperson. Ask Saina or Sindhu for his dedication and Gopichand is right up there.

Badminton, Gopichand says, is a great sport because it stretches every part of the body.

“Badminton tests your strength and stamina. It needs you to run, jump, move sideways, forward, and back, it needs you to have the power to hit the hard smashes. All these things put together make badminton a great all-round sport to pursue,” he told Firstpost.

“The sport is a lot of fun. Take one step at a time. Enjoy the sport and the discipline and hardwork it entails. The learnings that sport gives are of great importance,” said Gopichand, adding that it is absolutely not necessary to become a champion.

How to play badminton

The success of PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and others has helped propel badminton's popularity in India to new heights.

Badminton is now reputedly the second most played sport in India, with only cricket having more mass-participation.

You can find out more details on how to play, the rules of badminton and the history of the sport in India in our comprehensive guide here.