Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal has parted ways with long-time mentor Pullela Gopichand and will be training under former chief coach Vimal Kumar, a development which did not go down well with the national badminton coach, who preferred to remain tight-lipped. Saina has been struggling with her fitness and form for almost two years. She had though broken her 20-month long Super Series title drought, winning the Australian Open in June and also performed well at the Uber Cup in May.
However, the Indian withdrew from her title defence of Commonwealth Games owing to fitness issues and also failed to win a medal at the World championship last week. With the Asian Games just a fortnight away, Saina decided to hone her skills with Vimal, whose tips had helped her immensely during her unbeaten run at the Uber Cup. The 24-year-old today flew to Bangalore to train at the Prakash Padukone Academy for the next two weeks.
"I wanted to train under Vimal sir ahead of the Asian Games as his advice helped me during the Uber Cup. Asian Games is a big tournament and I feel he can help me," the London Olympic bronze medallist said. "I reached Bangalore today and I will train under him for the next 15 days. I want to win a medal at the Asian Games and hope it helps me to do well there," she added.
Gopichand was not amused by the decision and said he doesn't want to talk about the issue as the Asian Games is just round the corner. "Well, it has been ten years we worked together. Whatever has happened, I am not very ... I saw that report in the paper in the morning. Leave it at that," Gopichand told reporters in Hyderabad today. "I don't want to comment on that issue because it is two weeks to go for the Asian Games. I think whereever you are training the last thing you want is your focus to be out. So leave it that, (lets) address it later," he said.
Replying to repeated queries on the issue, Gopichand said he doesn't want to discuss the matter at the moment. Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy too confirmed the development as it circulated a press release, saying Saina will train with Vimal under the guidance of Padukone.