Sports

Gopichand is not part of the 9-member badminton contingent for Tokyo

New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand will not be on the field when PV Sindhu launches the campaign for his second Olympic medal in Tokyo later this month.

With Saina Nehwal and Sindhu winning Olympic medals in 2012 and 2016, respectively, the Indian team will look to end a hat trick of medals in Tokyo.

Gopichand was Sindhus’ coach when she won the silver in Rio in 2016.

As the Badminton Association of India (BAI) chose only a five-member support for the four qualified players due to strict COVID-19 protocols, Gopichand decided to opt out in favor of two foreign singles coaches.

Thus, the nine-member Indian contingent that ended on Tuesday consists of the four qualified players – Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and men’s double duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwik Rankireddy – three coaches and two physiotherapists.

Single coach Park Tae-Sang and Agus Dwi Santosa along with double coach Mathias Boe and physiotherapists Evangline Baddam and Sumansh Sivalanka accompany the players in Tokyo.

“With only one quota available, Gopichand decided to opt out to ensure that Agus Dwi Santosa could be accommodated. Santosa has trained with Sai [Praneeth] since the pandemic, ”BAI Secretary-General Ajay Singhania said in a statement on Tuesday.

Earlier, BAI had suggested that a seven-member coaching and support staff should be sent along with the players.

Due to strict COVID-19 protocols, only a 5-man team of coaches and support staff has been allowed to travel with the badminton contingent, the release said.

As a rule, only 33 percent of a country’s contingent can be support staff.

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