Indian badminton coach and former player Pullela Gopichand has helped coach several prodigies in the sport through his academy and has played a key role in both Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu’s Olympic medals.
While he has a big hand in charting the rise of Indian badminton to a world-class level in the past few years, Pullela Gopichand does not believe that sport should be indulged in only with the intent to win.
“Competitive sports has taken such a turn that recreational sports for health is not being thought of anymore. How many of us will enjoy sports just for the sake of it and not think about winning?” he told the Mumbai Mirror.
“We need to get back to the core of sports, which is discipline and mind-body connect. Sports is much beyond the idea of champions. In our race to build athletes, I've seen many broken champions. We should look at how sports builds people, not breaks them.”
Reversing the process in isolation
The coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to all activities with the national lockdown in India also being extended for a second time. It has left some athletes anxious as they are unaware of when they will get back to a playing routine.
However, Pullela Gopichand had a simple piece of advice for them. “I think we are all goal-oriented and driven by something that comes up in the next week, month or year. It has to be the reverse now,” the Indian badminton coach added.
“You have to focus on your process, get up in the morning and do the best work that you can do today, everything else will fall into place.”
The 46-year-old, who is only the second Indian badminton player after Prakash Padukone to win the prestigious All England Open in 2001, also warned athletes against using the pandemic as a reason for poor performance.
“It’s important that you don’t put negatives before you but instead, focus on what you can do and believe that there is no excuse for losses,” he expressed. “You have to scratch out the excuse that I didn’t have enough practice.”
“Sometimes, you can have the best facilities and fail and sometimes you can have none and win - but it is only possible if your eagerness to work is supreme.”