The 2019 season was an eventful one for Indian badminton.
While the singles players from the country found it tough to get some quality performances under their belt - outside of PV Sindhu winning the World Championships title - their doubles stars rose to the occasion to deliver some top-quality show.
Leading this bunch was the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. The duo were in top form during the season gone by as they became the first Indian badminton pair to win a BWF Super 500 title and then went on to build on that show as the season progressed.
One of the primary architects behind this success was the bronze medallist from the 2004 Athens Olympics, Flandy Limpele.
Flandy Limpele’s influence
Under the guidance of the Indonesian tactician, the Rankireddy-Shetty pair have not only grown in confidence but displayed some smart work that helped them stay competitive deep into their matches.
“With Flandy, it’s more about building your endurance. His training is all about making sure that we can last the distance even if the matches go on and on. That’s helped us, especially in matches we have played three games, with all the three going the distance,” Chirag Shetty had told the Olympic Channel in the past.
But with Flandy Limpele parting ways with the Indian set up last month, the Indian doubles badminton finds itself at a crossroads.
With no specialist doubles coach to oversee their progress, Chirag Shetty believes that getting an experienced hand on board should be the need of the hour.
“If an experienced coach comes on board, it will make a big difference,” the shuttler who broke into the top 10 last season told the Press Trust of India.
Time to get to next level: Chirag Shetty
“Now we are almost there, it is a matter of 2-3 points, say we are 90 per cent there and a really good coach like for example Rexy Mainaky, who is the head coach of Thailand would give us that extra 10 per cent. A high-calibre coach can help us get into the world’s top 3.”
Rexy Mainak is the gold medallist from the 1996 Olympics and is currently serving as the high-performance director of the Indonesian badminton team.
Meanwhile, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) is keen on finding a solution to this problem. But the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult.
BAI general secretary Ajay Singhania has assured that roping in a doubles coach will be their priority once the situation gets back to normal. “With the Olympic postponement, we are keen to get a doubles coach to strengthen the coaching staff,” he said.
“However, we have to wait for the lockdown to get over first so that we can discuss the issue with SAI and the Sports Ministry. I have already had a telephonic discussion with National Coach P. Gopichand and once the COVID-19 situation batters off we will take this up.”