The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gopichand says he isn’t finished yet
- Indian ace rues lack of competition at home

Mumbai: Former All-England champion Pullela Gopichand has moaned the lack of enough players of international standard, which he said, was a major cause of worry for Indian badminton.

“Apart from Chetan Anand, who is the best talent in the country now, we do not have any international standard players even though we have a few good players at the national level,” Gopichand said on Thursday after conducting a clinic for children at the Uday Pawar Badminton Academy.

Speaking about his own career which witnessed a slump especially after going through four surgeries on both his knees, the Hyderabad star said: “A physiotherapist’s constant attention makes the recovery (from injuries) easier but I cannot hire one now as the needs of my body are different from others.

“However, at the end of my career, I would be a bit sad about the injury problem I have faced but it is a tough sport and it has taken its toll on my body. Very few people play as long as I have done in competitive badminton,” he said.

“Due to the injuries I have slipped to 125 in the world ranking from a high of top ten. I want to reach the top 30-35 but it is going to be hard. I will have to play qualifying rounds even in lesser grade tournaments.”

Father of a two-month old baby girl, Gopichand said: “Though I cannot train like I used to, I have started taking help from an athletics coach. This also helps me retain independence in training while for matches I need to get the strength back in my knees and shoulders”.

The 30-year-old shuttler will be seen in action at the Singapore Open from August 24 before which he will be training with the national team.

“In fact I would have liked to have played in the All India tournament held here recently but as I was training for the Asian circuit, which was postponed, I got back to my basic strength training and did not want to disturb my schedule,” Gopichand said.

“I think I still have a couple of more years and I am satisfied at the way things are going now as my motivation is the same as when I was 10 or 12 years old.”

Gopichand, who demonstrated various aspects of the game to the youngsters, including how to be tough on the field and a relaxed person off it, said he did not get demoralised easily and would fight hard to regain his form.

“I don’t want to give up easily and as long as I maintain my physical fitness, I think I can contribute a lot to the country as a player and as a coach, which I will be taking up after my playing days are over,” he added.

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