Bhubaneswar: Badminton legend P Gopichand is in the city today for the selection of players for the upcoming SAI training Centre to be set up at Shahid Nagar. The players will be groomed for the upcoming Olympics.
Of the 51 players from across the Eastern India aged eight to 14, who showcased their skills at the Shahid Nagar Indoor Hall, 30 will be initially selected and later the rest will again be give a chance. The players will be given free coaching and residential and training facilities.
Team www.pragativadi.com spoke to the badminton great and Dronacharya award (2009) winning coach of the Olympic silver winner PV Sindhu, P Gopichand during the occasion.
Q: How do you find the talents of young players here?
A: The young kids are playing very well. They have come from far off in this heat and yet showcasing great skills. They can make great players in the future.
Q: What infrastructure is needed for making Olympic players from these talents?
A: The Indoor Hall here is not even air conditioned. But since SAI has taken up the project to build its East Centre here with all facilities, they will soon get the best infrastructure.
Q: Will we be able to produce many badminton Olympians like China then?
A: Well, it needs at least eight to 10 years to groom a talent for the Olympic level. But in the future we can be hopeful of more players who can qualify for Olympics.
Q: Your Academy in Hyderabad groomed Dutee Chand from Odisha and helped her qualify for Olympics.
A: We are proud to host Dutee. She is an exceptional talent. We feel fantastic to have her at our facility and it is her coach Ramesh and her efforts that have paid off. She is very hard working and talented. She is a great motivation for all of us at the Academy and inspiration for all sportspersons.
Q: You mentioned you grew up in Rayagada initially. Any memories?
A: I was a few months old when I was there since my father was an Agriculture Officer there. I lived in Rayagada till four years. I’m very attached to the place and Odisha even now.
(As told to Namita Panda)