Pullela Gopichand
Pullela Gopichand (L) stressed on the importance of sports at the school level.Reuters

India has never been a strong nation in the Olympics, winning only 28 medals in the competition's history. Badminton coach and a former Olympian Pullela Gopichand has seen things improving in Indian sports, but it is still not enough to help the country win more medals in the quadrennial event. 

It was under his watchful eyes that PV Sindhu won silver in the Rio Olympics. Besides the shuttler, wrestler Sakshi Malik was the only other person to win a medal in Brazil. From a contingent of 119 athletes, two medals is definitely a poor return. India's best ever performance has been six medals -- in London 2012.

Gopichand believes that there is a need for young kids to take sports seriously at the school level, where kids can learn the basics, which will help them improve as they reach a higher level of competition. But, there are challenges for kids, who have to keep a strong balance between academics and sports. It is such factors, which sometimes prompts youngsters to give up the sport midway.

The former shuttler is pleased with the government's support, but he wants to see some changes at the grassroots level, if the country are to produce world-class athletes in the near future.

"We have come a long way since my playing days. There is a lot of government support these days but that is not going to give us medals. The help is there for top athletes but there is hardly anything happening at the grassroots," Gopichand said.

"School sport is important. Unless we have a large pool of players playing different sports, it is tough to get more than an odd medal. We have a huge population so that makes it all the more challenging (to create a sporting culture).

"We have far too many kids dropping out of the system and leaving sport midway."