Ahead of the challenges that lie in the calendar year, Pullela Gopichand hopes the 18-year-old wait for an Indian to become an All England champion will come to an end. He has pinned his hopes on P.V. Sindhu, who he feels is perfectly placed to achieve the rare feat after a stellar 2018 wherein the shuttler clinched World Tour Finals title to end the year on a high.
Gopichand was the last Indian to win the All England Championship in 2001, achieving the coveted feat after 21 years of Prakash Padukone's 1980 title.
On being asked about Sindhu's superb recently and the targets this year, he said, "I think this year Sindhu has done well in all big tournaments. The World Tour Finals win has been even better. It's a great start to come in to this year."
Sindhu capped a successful season where she won silver medals at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Championship and finished runners-up at the India Open and the Thailand Open.
The All England Open and the World Championships will commence this year, and Gopichand said with the Olympic qualifying also there, the aim would be to ensure the biggest and a formidable team takes the flight to Tokyo.
"We have two major tournaments this year, the All England Championship and World Championships, also we have the Olympics Qualifying. The main target will be to ensure that we have high ranking and go to the Olympics with the biggest team," Gopichand added. He further entrusted his wards, Kidambit Srikanth and HS Prannoy -- who had an ordinary 2018 -- to come good as well.
"At the end of the year we have four athletes in top 20. I am happy with the men's singles (show). Of course 2017 has been phenomenal. This was much tougher than 2017. We had two big tournaments -- the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games -- which also took away two months of preparation time. And also the new BWF calendar asked top players to play lot more. Injuries were also there. Prannoy was recovering from an injury but overall for Srikanth although it might sound that it has been a championship less year, he has consistently reached quarters/semis. He is somebody who is very good and will make a comeback," Gopichand signed off.
About the Author
Aditya Sahay, a former cricket reporter/writer and statistician, has shifted gears to other sports (primarily badminton, tennis, kabaddi, hockey, golf etc). While cricket remains his first love, he enjoys covering and writing on kabaddi, hockey and tennis. He dons Germanys jersey during FIFA and believes Dhoni Dhoni hai, isko (aur) mauka mila toh bahut aage jayega