In this Walk the Talk on NDTV 24x7, national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand speaks to The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta about the rising star in the sport, the established icon, why India is ready to take on the world and the evolution of the game.
Itís a special privilege for me to have a real Indian star as my guest for this week. Pullela Gopichand is not just a star but the star behind an entire star cast in Indian badminton now.
These are exciting days for badminton. It is really good to have so many young players coming up. Itís been my dream for a long time to see Indian badminton reach the world level.
You have produced this cast of half-a-dozen world-class Indian players.
The fact that they are playing on the big stage and are not afraid is wonderful to see. All of them believe that they are going to do something big.
What is different from your playing days and now in terms of playersí attitude?
To a large extent, it depends on how physically trained you are, how strong you are. Once you are fit and strong, then you have the belief. Also, Saina Nehwal has to take credit because she showed the rest of them that we can do it at the world stage. They feel if Saina, who is training with us has done this, then we also can. Thatís the kind of confidence Saina has given them.
Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
I think many of the times when we were playing at the international level, the belief that ĎI am going to winí wasnít there.
You guys didnít have it?
A few of us who actually had it got the results. There were a lot of players who had more talent than what their results showed. Many of them choked, while many didnít have the real desire to get to the highest stage.
Thatís also the way India has changed.
Yes, by and large. If I were to compare things, many of players in the 1996 and 2000