PV Sindhu will be one of the favourites at Tokyo 2020, says chief coach Pullela Gopichand

Gopichand has backed the Rio 2016 silver medallist to produce her best-ever performance at Tokyo 2020

By Samrat Chakraborty

India's chief national coach Pullela Gopichand has backed ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu to go one better than her performance at Rio 2016 and bring home the gold medal from Tokyo 2020.

At Rio 2016, under the tutelage of Gopichand, Sindhu lost to Spain's Carolina Marin in the women's singles final to settle for a silver medal in the women's single event.

"I'm hoping that PV Sindhu can pull it off. She's definitely going to be one of the favourites in the Olympics and with the venue as well," Gopichand said during a virtual media interaction, organized by Heartfulness Institute & Dhyana app, which is the official media partner of Indian contingent for Tokyo 2020.

Sindhu will, however, feature in Tokyo 2020 under her new coach Park Tae-Sang of South Korea. She has been seeded sixth and drawn against unseeded Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong and Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel in the Group J.

Gopichand has played a key role in generating the interest in badminton in India.

Meanwhile, Gopichand has cautioned men's doubles pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and India's lone representative in men's singles B Sai Praneeth, against the stiff contest they could face in the initial stage.

"Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag (Shetty) have a tough draw but they have potential. (For) Sai Praneeth it's going to be tough but he has done well in the last World Championships," he said.

Furthermore, Gopichand is also optimistic that India's largest contingent at the Olympics in Tokyo 2020, can record the best-ever medal haul and even reach double digits.

India's best harvest, so far, has been at the London 2012 Games where the contingent clinched six medals (two silver, four bronze).

"I do believe that whether it is shooting, wrestling, boxing or Mirabai Chanu in weightlifting. I think they have a lot of chances and definitely better than what we did in Rio and London," the former All England Open Badminton Championships winner said.

"I do believe this time around we will have India's biggest medal tally till now surpass what India did in 2016 and hopefully get into the double digit because there has been a lot of support and help from the government," he added.

Meanwhile, Gopichand also feels that Tokyo 2020, slated to get underway from July 23, will have it's own, unique challenges due to the Covid-19 situation.

"I think this Olympics will be very different from whatever we had. It's almost like people are there from around the world and it is normally a vibrant environment. But this time around it's different," Gopichand feels.

"Each one of them would have some tools to keep them relaxed and focused. I do believe the amount of time the athletes will have inside closed rooms will be a lot and the amount of time they will social media will be stressful," he added.