Even though they suffered an early exit, the badminton pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty was one of the standouts from India's perspective during the Olympics. The young guns couldn't return home with a medal, but they came back richer as players, adding to their ever-growing reputation. Now, they have a few big months ahead. However, they will have to manage without doubles head coach Mathias Boe, whose contract ended after the aforementioned Games.
"His contract was until the Olympics. We'll have talks with SAI and try to get him back. Based on what Satwik and Chirag have done under his guidance, we feel he should be the coach again. We'll try to sort this as soon as possible," Ajay Singhania, BAI general secretary, said.
Boe had been roped in earlier this year under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme to guide the doubles players. In Boe's absence, Satwik and Chirag, part of the upcoming Thomas and Uber Cup, has been training under the guidance of national chief coach Pullela Gopichand, Indonesian coach Dwi Kristiawan and other Indian coaches. Soon after the Thomas Cup, scheduled to be held from October 9 to 17, they will be taking part in the Denmark Open (Oct 19-24) and then the French Open (Oct 26-31).
The duo was initially supposed to return for the recently-concluded Sudirman Cup but had to pull out at the last minute due to an illness for Chirag. Satwik revealed that he had a minor thumb injury before that. Having returned to training recently, they are geared up for the busy schedule ahead. "We started training recently. We have the Thomas Cup, Denmark Open and the French Open this month. The big tournament is the World Championships in December. So our focus is on that," Chirag said.
Even though Boe is not around, Satwik is positive, having worked with Gopichand. He's also happy to see other doubles players stepping up. "Gopi (Pullela Gopichand) sir, along with other Indian coaches, have been guiding us very closely. The upcoming doubles players are also doing quite well. We are getting good enough practice. Now, we have four, five pairs who are doing well. Before we just had two pairs," he said.
The duo, Saina Nehwal and four other players and coach Arun Vishnu were scheduled to depart for Aarhus (Denmark) early in the morning (Tuesday). A 21-member team consisting of 12 players, three coaches and five support staff and a team manager will be reaching Aarhus from Finland. Five members, including two players (Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Joly), are expected to depart on Tuesday.
The pair of Gayatri and Treesa had recently finished runners-up in the Polish International. The team also comprises youngsters like Dhruv Kapila, MR Arjun, Tanisha Crasto and Rutuparna Panda. Coach Arun is happy that the youngsters are getting the chance to compete at the top level. "We have done our homework. I'm happy with the bench strength (doubles). This event is massive for the young players. With more exposure events like this, they are bound to become better," he said.
The men's team has been clubbed alongside China, Tahiti and Netherlands in Group C. The women's team will be up against Thailand, Scotland and Spain in Group B.