HYDERABAD: Believe it or not, Pullela Gopi Chand will don the role of a travelling coach, albiet briefly. For Saina Nehwal, the runner-up in the recent senior National badminton championship, it should be a training stint which could well change her career-graph.
Gopi Chand will accompany Saina to the Hang Zhou province in China to get her trained by Wang Xiao Ming for the next two weeks. Pleased with Saina's progress, especially after her win in the Delhi Asian Satellite defeating Aparna Popat, Gopi Chand has reiterated that the Hyderabad girl was the best thing to have happened to Indian badminton in recent times.
Why Wang Xio?
"I have a very high regard for his vast knowledge and I was his trainee in 1991 and 1992. There is no better experience than being trained by a Chinese coach," said Gopi Chand after a practice session with Saina.
What will be the areas of focus during training?
"Obviously, speed. Saina has to be really quick to get the better of the big guns in the Asian circuit. She has to also try for some variations in her strokes for better results," said Gopi Chand.
With the Laxmi Mittal Foundation signing up the 15-year-old Saina recently and taking care of all expenditure towards training and exposure, money is not a problem. Significantly, Gopi Chand, who is expected to return to Hyderabad after a five-day stay, is also keen to explore the possibility of having a tie-up with Hang Zhou province badminton authorities for frequent exchange of trips with the trainees of his own Academy. "I am looking at a long-term policy," he said.