HYDERABAD : The buzz was missing. The kind one expects when champions arrive back to their city after a historic outing. Just a few days after the Indian badminton contingent recorded its best ever performance at the Commonwealth Games, the guru of the contingent — Pullela Gopichand — touched down in Hyderabad on Monday night. He was received by close associates as his mother hugged him tight. Some onlookers were not sure who the ‘champion’ was.
India shuttlers grabbed six medals — two gold (women’s singles, mixed team), three silver (one each in women’s singles, men’s singles and men’s doubles ), and a bronze (women’s doubles) at the tournament, which concluded on Sunday. India’s dominance was reflected by the identity of the two finalists in the women’s singles match — Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu. Gopichand seemed overjoyed at the achievement of his wards, and termed the historic mixed team gold as the ‘big moment’. “To me, the team event gold was the big moment, and also the fact that we had ensured two medals even before the women’s singles final started,” he said.
The veteran coach had special praise for the doubles players. “All the doubles players performed really well. It was fantastic from Satwiksairaj (Rankireddy) and Ashwini (Ponnappa). We lost a couple of close matches. Ashwini and Satwik had to play four matches in a day. It was quite tiring for them.”Rising badminton star HS Prannoy lost in the singles semis. “He played a close match with Lee Chong Wei and it was immediately followed by a bronze medal match against Rajiv Ouseph. When it comes to scheduling, it is all about luck. It would have definitely helped if Prannoy had a little more energy for the Ouseph match.”
The progress of men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj and Chirag Shetty has started to created ripples. Gopichand said it was no surprise that they clinched silver. “Last year, they did well against some of the top doubles players in the world. So it is not that we are very surprised with their result. They have shown good potential. They are really young, and with experience I am sure they will be playing some really big matches.”Surprisingly, the head coach termed the epic women’s singles final between Saina and Sindhu as “a match of little interest.” “It didn’t matter since we were ensured of medals. It was a great position to be in. I am very happy about it.”