Three years after parting ways, Saina Nehwal has once again resumed her partnership with long-time mentor and former coach Pullela Gopichand and would be starting her training at his academy in Hyderabad after recovering from a thigh strain. The London Olympics bronze medallist, who had suffered a slight thigh strain en route to winning a bronze at the recently-concluded World Championship, had discussed about her intention with chief national coach Gopichand and her current coach Vimal Kumar.” For a while I’ve been thinking about moving my training base back to the Gopichand academy and I had a discussion about this with Gopi sir and I am really thankful to him for agreeing to help me again,” Saina, who is now in Hyderabad recovering from the strain, wrote on her twitter handle.
“At this stage in my career I think he can help me achieve my goals. I m very happy to b back home and train in Hyderabad,” added the Indian, who had hurt herself after falling down during pre-quarterfinals clash against Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour. Saina returning to Hyderabad has more to do with Mulyo Handoyo, best known for coaching Indonesian legend Taufik Hidayat, who was appointed as a singles coach early this year by the Badminton Association of India (BAI). Under Mulyo, India has achieved unprecedented success with P V Sindhu returning with a World Championship silver besides winning the India Super Series. Kidambi Srikanth also clinched back-to-back titles at Indonesia and Australia, while B Sai Praneeth won his maiden Super Series at Singapore.
“Saina on her return from the World Championships, asked my opinion on her working with the Indonesian coach, Mr Mulyo, brought in by Sports Authority of India, for looking after the singles players in National camps,” Vimal said. “He is attached with Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad. I had indicated to her that there is no harm at all in her giving it a try,” he added. Vimal said Saina will start training at Gopichand academy after recovering from the injury and it is important to provide every opportunity to the Indian to improve and achieve more laurels for the country. “Players have a short span at the top and will always be looking at ways to get better. Saina and Sindhu are special girls and if they are able to get even better, we should provide them those opportunities,” Vimal said.
“Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy and Gopichand Badminton Academy are recognised training centers of SAI and we at PPBA supported Saina when she needed.” Saina, 27, had split with Gopichand ahead of the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, deciding to hone her skills under Vimal in Bangalore. “I’m also very thankful to Vimal sir for helping me for the last three years. He helped reach world no.1 in the rankings and also helped me win two world championships medal silver in 2015 and bronze in 2017 along with many super series title,” Saina tweeted.
Saina had maintained a distance from Gopichand after parting ways with him following a quarterfinal exit at the 2014 World Badminton Championships in Denmark. But that was not the first time that the duo had split. In 2011, Saina started training with Baskar Babu but within three months returned to Gopichand, regretting her decision. In 2012, she bagged the bronze medal at the London Games under Gopichand’s guidance.