Saina Nehwal has been heaping praise on her coach Vimal Kumar after she won her first World Championships medal a few days ago in Jakarta, Indonesia. In her previous attempts, the shuttler had failed to progress beyond the quarter-final stage. She achieved the feat after splitting with her former coach Pullela Gopichand and training under Kumar.
But, one also needs to give credit to Gopichand for helping her reach the heights in the world of badminton. It was under his guidance that the Indian shuttler became a force in world badminton.
Gopichand feels that Saina is playing better. "I can definitely say that she is playing better. Of course, you can debate that. Last year, she won the Australian Open defeating Carolina and registered other good performances," The Times of India quoted Gopichand.
Despite her loss against Carolina Marin in the finals, Saina has become world number one, which is a major feat considering the number of top shuttlers in the fray.
Gopichand further stated that it is time to applaud her achievements. "Today is the time to celebrate her feat. She is World No. 1 and I'm very happy for her. If going to Vimal has made this difference to her game, I have no problems with that," added Gopichand.
Though Saina has had a good year so far, there are a number of other titles, which she would love to win and Gopichand feels that, after winning the silver medal in the World Championships, she can do even better. "It's a fantastic achievement and it's really good what she has achieved. This leaves her with the expectation to do even better," added Gopichand.
It is due to the exploits of Saina and other shuttlers such as Kidambi Srikanth, P V SIndhu and H S Prannoy, the sport of badminton has been getting its fair share of coverage. As a result, India, a nation which loves cricket, is gradually warming up to badminton as well.
Gopichand feels there is more exposure now compared to the past.
"Badminton today is a different ball game. There is more exposure. Earlier, people used to take notice of our results only if we made it to the finals. Sometimes our results were reported after the end of the tournament. These days, there's a preview getting published. The television viewership and the number of people following the game have grown manifold. Obviously, the players' performances have been the primary reason for it and I'm very happy to see this happen," said Gopichand.