“Whatever I could not achieve as a player, I have been able to achieve as a coach.” (Pullela Gopichand Is An Inspiration To One And All !)
These are the words of Pullela Gopichand, the man who is widely regarded among India’s sporting circles as the only one who can bring India Olympic success. After enjoying a storied career as a badminton player, Gopichand is busy sculpting the future of badminton in India.
These are the excerpts from a recent interview that he did in which he spoke on a variety of topics.
Q. How do you go about preparing for the Olympics? I remember how you moved to SAI Bangalore and led an ascetic life before the Sydney Olympics. And then came the Olympic medals for Saina and Sindhu. What do you think has been the key to developing Olympic champions?
Well it’s everybody’s aspiration and everybody’s goal to be a champion at the highest level. Some are able to achieve and some do not. As a coach too, the same desire is there. It’s nothing different when I was a player; it was a dream. Thanks to God I have been able to achieve whatever I could as a player. And whatever I could not achieve as a player I have been able to achieve as a coach. I think it has been quite nice. (Pullela Gopichand Is An Inspiration To One And All !)
Q. So are you working on a pipeline of coaches?
Yes, and I think the Government recognises that and the BAI has been helpful and also recognises it. Also together with NGOs and sponsors, we are looking at broad-basing the existing system. Also, the plan is to get former players that are interested in the sport to come back to coaching, and I think that’s where the biggest success would come.
Q. How does a tournament like PBL impact your preparations? How do you channelize the players’ energy after they return from the PBL?
I think this is the new age. I think it is important for us as coaches to also understand that this is the way it is going to be moving forward as well. I think we need to embrace it. I travel and watch all the matches. Players also come back, and we have discussions and validate what they have learnt.
Q. A win like Sindhu’s establishes plenty of faith. How did you celebrate her achievement?
I think I have been working every day since the Olympics. I have not had my holiday till now. It has been hard. I have been travelling and moving and every now and then things have come up. I am trying to restructure a few things and to get a few coaches and get a few structures in place. (Pullela Gopichand Is An Inspiration To One And All !)
Q. What would be your advice for the development of young upcoming sports players?
I think each champion goes through his/her own journey. I did not play the sport till I was 11. I played all kinds of sports in my village other than badminton.
A Saina comes up in a separate way and a Sindhu comes up in a separate way. So champions do not come in the same mould. An Indian champion comes in a different mould than, say, the mould you come in if you are a Marin.