HYDERABAD, August 1: After a 150-day hiatus, the famed Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy will raise its shutters as the Telangana government has decided to open stadia and playgrounds from August 5.
Welcoming the development, chief coach of the Indian badminton team Pullela Gopichand said that he will first start with the Olympic probables. “It’s a good move by the state government to state sports activities. Although it’s a concern that cases are growing we have to be cautious and start off slowly,” Gopichand told TOI.
In the first phase only the eight Olympic probables – PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy – will start practice. Gopichand said that the Sports Authority of India (SAI) instructed them to start with these eight players.
“As per the SAI guidelines we have to start only with these eight Olympic probables. Maybe a little while later we will think about expanding the training,” Gopichand said.
Among the eight, Sindhu, Sai and the men’s doubles pair of Satwik and Chirag have more or less qualified for the Olympics. While Saina Nehwal has a fair chance of making the cut, Srikanth, Ashwini-Sikki have an outside chance.
Training stopped at the Academy before the All England Championships in March. Soon after the All England, Badminton World Federation (BWF) suspended the calendar from March 15. Though the world federation is making efforts to resume the season, it looks unlikely this year as several top events are getting cancelled and China making it clear that it would not host any tournaments this year.
Meanwhile, Telangana sports minister V Srinivas Goud on Saturday met several top sportspersons from the state like Sania Mirza, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sikki Reddy, Sai Praneeth and Sumeeth Reddy. After the meeting, the minister announced the reopening of stadia and grounds. The minister advised the player to take all necessary precautions. The government decided not to allow any tournaments for now. (TNN)