Former world No. 1 badminton player and Olympic bronze medallist, Saina Nehwal has started her basic training following the COVID-19 outbreak at a centre near the Pullela Gopichand academy in Hyderabad.
The Telangana government had given the green light to eight Tokyo Olympics probable shuttlers to start training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) camp at the Pullela Gopichand Academy last week.
However, Saina Nehwal, the first Indian woman shuttler to win an Olympic medal, has decided to initiate her basic training with husband and Commonwealth Games winner Parupalli Kashyap and bronze medallist Gurusai Dutt before shifting to the SAI camp.
“We have been training at a centre near the Gopichand academy for a week now,” Parupalli Kashyap told PTI.
“It is a small facility. We started with the basics as it was after a long time that we were hitting the court. Saina has just joined and will probably start training at the Gopichand academy in a couple of weeks.
“She wants to get fitter and reach a decent level. She has sought the permission of Gopi sir and discussed it with new Indonesian coach Agus Dwi Santoso,” Kashyap added.
Of the permitted eight Olympic hopefuls - PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy – only a few have started their training at the national camp so far.
But former world No. 6 Parupalli Kashyap believes that the camp could accommodate more.
“Chirag, Satwik and Ashwini are not in Hyderabad right now so basically only four-five players are training,” Parupalli Kashyap pointed out.
“There are nine courts and players generally train for an hour or two, so I think few more players can be allowed to train there,” he added.
Where Nehwal stands in Olympic qualification
Ranked 22nd in the Race to Tokyo BWF Olympic Qualification table, Saina Nehwal will need consistent performances to land a berth at Tokyo 2020 next year. The top 16 women of the world qualify for the Summer Games.
Saina Nehwal will have to make the most of the upcoming Olympic qualification period of January 4 - May 2, 2021.
Saina’s compatriot and fellow Olympic medallist PV Sindhu, meanwhile, is eyeing a spot in the Indian badminton team for the Uber Cup that is scheduled to be held in Denmark from October 3 to 11.