Saina Nehwal’s former coach Vimal Kumar has stressed that Saina needs to focus more on her workload management to achieve more success under Pullela Gopichand’s tutelage. Kumar, who worked with Saina for three years, also added that he respects Saina’s decision and wished her well for her future.
Yesterday, the world number 12, who currently nursing a hamstring strain, tweeted her decision to return to Pullela Gopichand Academy stating that she was contemplating moving back to her home city for quite some time. The two-time World Championship medallist would work with Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo and other coaches in the national camp in Hyderabad.
Three years ago, Saina had moved to Bengaluru to coach under the tutelage of Vimal Kumar at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy following her quarterfinal loss in the 2014 World Championship in Copenhagen, where her compatriot PV Sindhu went on to bag her second bronze medal in the competition. Under Vimal’s stewardship, the London Olympics bronze medalist went on to win the World Championship silver in 2015, and then became the first Indian to be ranked world number one before a career-threatening knee injury ended her hopes of winning a second successive medal at the Olympics.
But now that Saina has decided to move to Hyderabad, Kumar stated that if Saina manages to keep a right balance between her work and fitness, then she can deliver much more under Gopichand and Handoyo.
"As a coach, it is our responsibility that the players reach their full potential and provide them everything. I've been very clear with this since the beginning. When she mentioned that she wanted to go back to the Gopichand Academy, I had no issues at all. I told her to take care of her physical training as far as her fitness is concerned. She always did extra work and these things affected her later with a few injuries. So, if she can take care of that, she can deliver a lot under Gopichand and Handoyo," Kumar told TOI.
"Saina is a special player and when an opportunity arrived, she wanted to make full use of it. Her main objective will be winning the Asian gold. Sindhu and Saina can definitely bring home a gold."
The main reason behind her parting with Gopichand, three years ago, was the lack of individual attention due to Gopichand’s heavy workload in his academy. Now, with the presence of PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth, and Sai Praneeth, the main question arises whether Gopichand will be able to devote extra attention to Saina. But Kumar believes that Saina would have been given assurances before she agreed to the move.
"Maybe it (special attention) has been assured to her. I had a long chat with her today and she and Gopi have also talked about this. She told me she has been promised all the support. Players have a short span at the top and will always be looking at ways to get better. We at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy supported Saina when she needed it. As long as this move gives her mental satisfaction, I'm happy about it,” the former India coach said.