We are all professionals and we realise we have to defend our Gold, says Dipika Pallikal

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We are all professionals and we realise we have to defend our Gold, says Dipika Pallikal

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SportsCafe Desk

03/26/2018

Dipika Pallikal has admitted that although it is tough to imagine going to the CWG without coach Achraf El Karargui, the Squash team is determined to defend the Doubles’ Gold title. Pallikal is optimistic about her chances in Gold Coast as she aims for a medal in the Singles’ category as well.

India were rewarded with their first major medal in the sport of Squash four years ago at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when Dipika Pallikal and Joshna Chinappa beat the top-seeded Laura Massaro and Jenny Duncalf from England to clinch the Doubles’ Gold medal. A huge credit for the win went to coach Achraf El Karargui who helped the duo of Pallikal-Chinappa improve their game and clinch Gold for the country.

But all that has changed in the last four weeks, which seen Karagui step down from his role as coach of the Indian Squash contingent just weeks before the 2018 CWG in Gold Coast. Pallikal admitted that she was extremely ‘disheartened’ with the news but concedes that as professionals it is the team’s duty to defend their Gold in the upcoming tournament regardless of the circumstances.

"I cannot speak for others but it (not having a coach) is disheartening. I have been training with him for over two years and it is hard not to have him in your corner during the Games. Having said that, we are all professionals and we realise we have a very important job at hand, that is to defend our gold.

"He (Karargui) was the biggest asset for the team. I think he has changed a lot for Indian squash. For me, I know that I will be on a phone call with him everyday. It has all gone downhill in the last four weeks and now we are just trying to move forward," Pallikal told PTI.

Pallikal added that while things were different four years ago when the Indian’s were considered as underdogs at the tournament, it’s not the same case this time around. Pallikal has a first round bye in singles and the ninth seed is drawn to meet fifth seed Alison Waters of England in the Round of 16 in Gold Coast. Her compatriot, Eighth seed Chinappa is drawn to meet second seed Joelle King in the last eight stage.

"Our best chance is women's doubles but anything can happen in that format as we don't play it often. As of now, singles will be played first and we are focussed on that. There is a good chance of winning a singles medal too.

"Every match is going to be hard. Without a doubt it is going to be exhausting (playing three categories). But we have managed in the past, so hopefully this time it should not be much of an issue either," said Pallikal.

Pallikal added that her husband and cricketer, Dinesh Karthik, served as an inspiration for her ahead of the tournament. She opined that his match-winning six versus Bangladesh in the finals of the Nidahas Trophy was a reward for his hard work over the years.

"It has been very hard two years for both of us. We have hardly have spent anytime because of our hectic schedules. He totally deserves what he has achieved in the last one year and surely it gives me additional motivation to do well too," she said referring to Karthik, who cheered her on from the sidelines in Glasgow four years ago.

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