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It was a setback but we now have our focus back: Chirag Shetty on Indian Doubles Badminton coach stepping down

Coach Tan Kim Her eventually became a part of the framework here in the country- 3 years after India's last Specialist Doubles coach, Edwin Iriawan, left in 2013.

It was a setback but we now have our focus back: Chirag Shetty on Indian Doubles Badminton coach stepping down
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Updated: 2021-07-21T20:31:10+05:30
One of India's most prominent achievers in Doubles Badminton, Jwala Gutta was known for speaking her mind off the court in addition to her obvious prowess on the court. One of the topics she always brought up during her competitive days was the lack of a specialist coach in the Indian Badminton circuit to cater to the technical and physical specificities of Doubles badminton. Aided by her insistence, Coach Tan Kim Her eventually became a part of the framework here in the country- 3 years after India's last Specialist Doubles coach, Edwin Iriawan, left in 2013. Cut to 2019 and the situation for Indian Badminton has changed quite a lot. The Rio Olympics in 2016 brought with it a Silver medal in the sport and the year following that feat, Indian badminton saw the emergence of stars beyond Saina Nehwal. The sport itself became one of the more popular ones among the general populace of India However, the year before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics came with what can be described as a setback for Doubles badminton in general- Coach Tan Kim Her, his contract looking to run till the Tokyo Olympics, announced his decision to leave citing personal reasons.
Coach Tan Kim Her with India's Doubles players. The situation, in a way, mirrors the perceived and long standing effect that former Singles coach Mulyo Handoyo and him stepping down had for Singles Badminton- particularly among the men. His association with the current crop of shuttlers went a long way in improving stamina and consistency among the squad and the consequences of his departure still linger. Would we see a similar situation in Doubles Badminton? The Bridge reached out to Chirag Shetty- one half of the Men's Doubles duo in the country that has seen remarkable progress under the Malaysian. Chirag, along with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, won the Bronze medal for India at last year's Commonwealth Games. The duo are currently ranked 20th in the world according to the most recent rankings.
"In the past three and a half years, a lot has changed for me- both professionally and personally,"
says Chirag. "I moved to Hyderabad and worked under Coach Tan Kim Her and back then, it was quite impossible to believe that we could have come this far and achieved whatever we have till now in this short period of time. A lot of credit for that goes to him." The duo first began playing in 2016 and over that year, went from being ranked in the 600s globally to reaching 68th by December. The youngsters graduated from playing in the Junior circuit to making waves in the senior circuit and their quickness and sharp decisions on the court made sure that they were noticed.
"Our on-court sessions were a lot more systematic and better planned under him,"
continues Chirag. "Before that, Badminton training used to be a lot more singles-centric but having a specialist Doubles coach ensures equal attention." "One of the biggest things that I personally would credit him for is an improvement in my consistency," says Chirag. "Transition to seniors from the Junior circuit is never simple- there is a lot more competition that one must adjust to and there is a wide gap between the quality of badminton in most cases. It was at this juncture that I first met him and he made the process slightly easier."
Coach Tan Kim Her can be credited for bringing together the duo of Chirag and Satwik in the first place. Initially, they were both playing with different partners and the decision to pair them up as a team did not go down well with either of them. Standing at this point in time, the initial resistance is gone as we see how compatible and dynamic the two are on court. With Satwiksairaj currently out with a shoulder injury, Chirag will be taking some time off to play and practice with other partners until Satwik is ready to make a comeback. He will be playing the upcoming Swiss Open with Pranaav Jerry Chopra. Chirag and Pranaav recently teamed up to bag the Senior Nationals crown. The upcoming India Open will see Chirag and Satwik team up once again.
"The day he announced he would be stepping down, he texted us in the group and then later on, we met him in person."
Lending his opinions on the growth of Doubles Badminton in India, Chirag is quick to point out that while equal assistance is given to all formats of the game by the concerned National Federation, it is the lack of private sponsorship for Doubles players that still remains a massive problem. "Internationally, everybody is treated at par but as far as India is concerned, the mindset has a long way to go to effectively result in some change." But despite a setback, Chirag remains optimistic for the improvement of Doubles Badminton. "The news was definitely a setback but we worked to get our focus back soon. The day he announced he would be stepping down, he texted us in the group and then later on, we met him in person."
"The coaches taking on from him (Flandy Limpele and Namrih Suroto) are people I am looking forward to working under. Flandy Limepele is an Olympic medalist and his strategies are definitely going to help us learn and get better." "In 2018, the aim was reaching a semi-final. This year, we can aim for a final appearance and a title in addition to a Top 15 World Ranking. 2019 is a challenge I am ready to take on and we are working towards reaching our goal with new energy."
Also read: Can Satwik and Chirag recreate the early Lee-Hesh days in Badminton?
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