With less than a month remaining for the cut-off date for Rio Olympics, chief coach Pullela Gopichand on Wednesday expressed the hope of seeing seven shuttlers at the event. He also added that Kidambi Srikanth is the only male shuttler with a chance to make the cut with others out of the top 16.
In an interaction with the Hindu on Wednesday, the chief coach of the Indian badminton team expressed the hope of seeing two entries in the women singles, one each in women's doubles and men's doubles, apart from one in men's singles, to form the Indian challenge at the event.
“It is too early to assess the form of the players going to the Olympics. After one-and-a-half months of training just before the Games, the players are going to look different. At present, everyone is a bit tense while chasing ranking points,” he said.
When asked about the first-round exits of the Indian male shuttlers at the recently-concluded India Open Super Series badminton tournament, the former All England Champion blamed it on a hectic schedule.
“That did not come as a surprise. After all, the players have been busy since January. From playing the Premier Badminton League, the Syed Modi Grand Prix and the South Asian Games before going on to play in different continents, in different time-zones. It is not easy,” said Gopichand.
Talking about the Men’s Singles, the 42-year old said that only Kidambi Srikanth, who is World No.10, has a realistic chance to make the quadrennial event with the others out of the top 16.
“Only Srikanth has a realistic chance (among men). P. Kashyap is not fit and expected to resume training after two weeks. H. S. Prannoy needs to defend points in the coming weeks. He requires, at least, two semifinal appearances (out of three tournaments) to not only defend the points earned last year but also to enhance his current tally. That seems pretty tough,” Gopichand told Hindu.