The former national champion wants the authorities to let the Tokyo 2020 bound athletes train once they have cleared the COVID-19 tests.
At a time when Olympic-bound athletes are finding it difficult to keep up with the demanding training routines ahead of the 2020 Olympics, former national champion U Vimal Kumar wants India to take a cue from other countries in how they are gearing up for Tokyo.
The Chinese shuttlers have been training in Nottingham since February and Vimal Kumar, who briefly coached Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal and is now looking after the development of Lakshya Sen, believes that the Indian authorities should do more for the athletes here.
“In badminton, look what China, Japan or Korea are doing. They are staying in different countries and training. Here we have hardly 100 odd people who have qualified for the Olympics. They have to be looked at a little bit differently,” he told the Press Trust of India.
The Indian badminton players who returned home from the All England Open Badminton Championships have been left to figure out their immediate future. This is after the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad and the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru, the training bases of India’s elite, were shut down following a directive from the Telangana and Karnataka governments.
Vimal Kumar believed that the shuttlers should be allowed to train once they have cleared the necessary tests for COVID-19.
“I feel sad for the sports community. They follow a healthy lifestyle, they have good immunity, unlike the general public. So I believe the government should look at ways to test these athletes who have already qualified and allow them to train,” said the former Indian champion.
“If it was some other year I wouldn’t have said so but it is an Olympic year, it comes after every four years. So put them through constant testing and even if some test positive I believe they will recover in two weeks.”
B Sai Praneeth, who won the bronze medal at the 2019 World Badminton Championships, too hoped that the situation will be addressed at the earliest.
“There is a lot of uncertainty right now. If things improve, how will the BWF go about organising the events, we don’t know. But nothing is in our hand,” he said.
“The two-week break will affect our fitness. The gym in my apartment has also been shut so I don’t have any way to work on my fitness. I take long walks and jog inside the campus,” Praneeth said.
Sai Praneeth along with PV Sindhu and the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have been assured of a berth at Tokyo 2020 so far.