Head national coach Paulila Gopichand, who led India to two Olympic medals, has opted to pull out of India’s Olympic badminton squad to make room for Indonesian Agus Doi Santosa, who coaches individual shuttle driver P Sai Pranith. Gopichand, who under his direction Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu took a bronze and a silver medal at the London and Rio Games respectively, withdrew after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) liquidated a support team of just five members, including three coaches and two doctors. In the run-up to the Olympics, Sindh was training under Korean coach Tae Sang Park at Gachipoli indoor stadium while Santoso worked with Praneth.
Denmark’s Matthias Boe has been appointed to lead Chirag and Satwick in their first games. These four stadiums will represent the challenge for India at the Games.
“With only one quota available, Gopichand has decided to withdraw in order to ensure Santosa accommodates those who have been training with Sai (Pranith) since the pandemic,” Badminton Federation Secretary General Ajay Singhania told PTI.
It is clear that players prefer the presence of their coaches during matches.
With Gopichand deciding not to go, the Indian badminton squad will consist of nine members, including three foreign coaches – Santoso, Tae Sang and Bo – two physicists Sumansh Sivalanka and Evangeline Badam (female) and four players.
Last month, BAI wrote to the IOA, proposing a seven-member support team to accompany the players.
However, with strict COVID-19 protocols and an assigned quota of 33% of support staff, only the 5-member dinner staff can be liquidated.
According to the standards, the number of officials traveling to the Olympic Games can be no more than a third of the athletes.
However, the Sports Ministry can allow additional officials at no cost to the government.
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