Pullela Gopichand (TOI Photo)
HYDERABAD: After a 100-day hiatus, top shuttlers are expected to restart training on July 1 if the Telangana government permits the reopening of stadiums.
Despite the steep increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, the government is likely to ease norms from July 1. Chief coach of the Indian badminton team Pullela Gopichand hoped that the government would allow players to practice. “The government might permit us from July 1. So far we have not received any communication but we don’t see a problem if the government doesn’t allow us to train for a few more days,” Gopichand told TOI on Friday.
The coach is convinced that all his players are doing their bit to keep themselves fit. “I am not worried about their fitness. We have been interacting regularly and all of them are working hard to be in shape,” he said.
The former All England champion believes that he needs six weeks to prepare a shuttler for tournaments. “There is still a lot of time before the tournaments start. We need six weeks of serious training to get ready for a tournament. Moreover, no major tournament is starting now and the Olympic qualification resumes next year,” Gopichand said.
However, the post-Covid training will be a lot different from what it was before. Only a few Olympic hopefuls would be allowed to train in restricted conditions. As the government has issued standard operating procedures (SOP) to be followed at training centres it would be a new experience for the players. “We have to follow the guidelines. So there will be some changes once we start the training. I have prepared a plan on how to conduct the training sessions,” Gopi said.
As per the SOP issued by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) only singles players would be allowed to practice. So in all likelihood, doubles shuttlers Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will have to practice facing each other and not on the same side of court.
Satwik-Chirag, PV Sindhu and Sai Praneeth have more or less qualified for Olympics. Saina Nehwal is also expected to qualify if she fares well in a couple of qualifying tournaments next year.