Pullela Gopichand, India’s chief national coach who led the country to two Olympic medals, has withdrawn from the Olympic badminton team to make room for Indonesian Agus Dwi Santosa, who coaches singles shuttler B Sai Praneeth.
Gopichand, who coached Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu to bronze and silver medals at the London and Rio Olympics, opted out after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) cleared only five members of the support staff, including three coaches and two physiotherapists.
Sindhu has been training at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium with Korean coach Tae Sang Park in the run-up to the Olympics, while Santoso has been working with Praneeth, Chirag and Satwik will be coached by Denmark’s Mathias Boe in their first Games.
These four shuttlers will represent India’s challenge at the Games.
“With just one quota available, Gopichand decided to opt-out to ensure Santosa could be accommodated who has been training with Sai (Praneeth) since the pandemic,” Badminton Association of India (BAI) General Secretary Ajay Singhania told PTI.
It’s completely understandable that players would prefer to have their individual coaches with them throughout games. With Gopichand opting out, the Indian badminton team will be made up of nine players, three foreign coaches (Santoso, Tae Sang, and Boe) & two physiotherapists Sumansh Sivalanka and Evangline Baddam (female).
The BAI proposed a seven-member support crew to accompany the players in a letter to the IOA last month.
Only five members of the higher staff were cleared due to tight COVID-19 rules and a requirement of 33 percent of support workers. The number of officials allowed to travel to the Olympics is limited to one-third of the number of athletes. The sports ministry, on the other hand, has the authority to authorize more officials at no cost to the government.