Why are PV Sindhu and Pullela Gopichand not together?
Since October, plenty of discussion has gone on around PV Sindhu and Pullela Gopichand's relationship. But is there actually a rift between them?
For the first time in the last decade, badminton great Pullela Gopichand will not be directly involved with the Indian shuttlers who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Gopichand has been the brain behind whatever success Indian shuttlers have achieved at the Olympics - first time Saina Nehwal in the London 2012 Olympics, the second time with Sindhu in the Rio Olympics 2016, both yielding a bronze and a silver medal, respectively.
Sindhu has been training with South Korea's Park Tae Sang at the Gachibowli Stadium. Men's doubles partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also followed the footsteps of Sindhu and left Gopichand's Academy to train at the Gachibowli Stadium with Danish Mathias Boe. Only men's singles player B Sai Praneeth is using the facility to train under the watchful eyes of Indoanesia's Angus Dwi.
Sindhu started learning the nuances of badminton under Gopichand and has won several major titles including the Olympic silver and BWF Tour Finals under him. But faced with increasing workload and the emergence of other singles shuttlers, Gopichand started creating a team around all top players. But faced with the increasing workload and the emergence of other singles shuttlers, Gopichand started creating a team around all top players.
Kim Ji Hyun joined the Indian coaching team in March 2019 and was given the task of training PV Sindhu and a few other girls. The coach teamed up well with Sindhu and played a role in helping her win the BWF World Championships title in 2019.
After Kim resigned from her position, Korean Park Tae Sang was assigned as the coach of Sindhu. Sindhu has reiterated that she has been liking the training of Sang and believes Tang has made her 'Olympic ready'.
So where did the Sindhu-Gopichand equation go wrong?
In October 2020, PV Sindhu went to London to prepare for the Asia leg of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournaments which were scheduled to take place in 2021. When Sindhu had announced Monday that she was in England for a few weeks for recovery and assistance in nutrition, it whipped up a controversy on social media. Some media reports had suggested the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist quit the then ongoing camp in Hyderabad and flew to London due to a rift with chief national coach Pullela Gopichand and tension with her family.
When the camp for Olympic probables was halted in August 2020 due to a couple of Covid-19 cases, PV Ramana, father of PV Sindhu had wanted her daughter to train under Korean coach Park Tae-sang at a separate facility. "Gopi being the national coach cannot focus on Sindhu alone, we'll request to have Sindhu's sessions with Park at Suchitra Academy," the former India volleyball player had said then. However, after Sindhu went to London, Ramana had told PTI that she had left because she didn't get proper attention in Hyderabad. "After the 2018 Asian Games, Gopi didn't take interest in her training. He didn't provide a proper practice partner to train with her," he had said.
Soon after his comments, Sindhu denied the rift between her family and coach Gopichand. She cleared the air through an Instagram post, where she wrote, "I came to London a few days back to work on my nutrition and recovery needs with GSSI. In fact, I have come here with the consent of my parents and absolutely they were no family rifts in this regard. Why will I have problems/issues with my parents who have sacrificed their lives for my sake, Mine is a very close-knitted family and they will always support me. I am in touch with my family members every day. Also, I do not have any issues with my coach Mr. Gopichand or the training facilities at the academy."
In March 2021, Sindhu decided to opt-out of SAI-Pullela Gopichand academy and train with Korean coach Park Tae Sang at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium in Hyderabad.
The move has been there on the cards for a long since Sindhu left for London to train before she returned to play at the Thailand Open. Former international Sanjay Sharma, the author of the book Pullela Gopichand, said he was mystified that Sindhu to opt-out of the academy."
Sindhu, however, cleared the air over the possible rift with Gopichand. In an interview with Times of India, Sindhu was quoted, "I had requested the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for the same, and the permission was granted to me. The Gachibowli indoor arena size is of international standards. It's similar to that of the badminton venue at the Tokyo Olympics and what we generally experience during international tournaments. It's important to understand the familiarity of the venue and stimulate such conditions at home. Also, the AC blowers are a major factor for 'drift' inside the playing venue. Getting used to the drift because of the effect blowers will have on the shuttlecock will help us at the Olympics. Most of the academies in Hyderabad don't have the blowers, so we miss understanding the drift. Here, at the Gachibowli indoor arena, you can master the drift factor," she explained.
It was, in fact, on Gopichand's request that the Gachibowli badminton halls were made available for practice to national camp players preparing for the Olympics and qualification tournaments. A letter from the Sports Authority of Telangana State (SATS) granting permission for the same to Gopichand was received on February 12.
Going by statements it looks that all is well between Sindhu and Gopichand, so it could be assumed that Sindhu and Gopi though have parted their ways as the former opts for better facilities, there are no apparent tensions between the two.