Tokyo Olympics 2020: Ex-Indian shuttler Trupti Murgunde expects PV Sindhu to do well; lauds B Sai Praneeth’s skills-Sports News , Firstpost

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Murgunde talks about Sindhu’s transformation into a bonafide medal contender, Sai Praneeth’s draw and more.

Over the course of the past decade, badminton in India has grown by leaps and bounds. Indian shuttlers have constantly been moving up the ranks, and at the past two Olympics, India have won a silver and a bronze medal in badminton. At the very forefront of this revolution is PV Sindhu, who has solidified her status as a heavyweight in the sport, thanks to her success at Rio 2016 and the World Championships in 2019.

Heading into the Tokyo Olympics 2020, Sindhu now finds herself playing the role of bonafide medal prospect instead of underdog, and with a draw that appears to be quite favourable for the 26-year-old, former Indian shuttler Trupti Murgunde opined that Sindhu has what it takes to go all the way in her campaign for Olympic glory.

“She definitely has a very decent draw. I don’t think it’s too easy, but it’s not too tough either. It’s good that she will be playing against players who she has faced in the recent past, during the few events we’ve had in this COVID-19 period. That really gives you a much clearer idea of what she’s up against,” said Dhyan Chand awardee Murgunde in an interaction with journalists.

“In the earlier rounds, the opponent from Hong Kong, Cheung Ngan Yi might prove to be a difficult match-up. Once Sindhu gets past that hurdle, she has Mia Blichfeldt in her path, who she beat at the Swiss Open in March, and then she could face Akane Yamaguchi, who she has beaten in the recent All-England Championships,” Murgunde added.

Murgunde also pointed out how Sindhu’s role has changed from what it was back in 2016, saying, “it is going to be different for Sindhu, she’s no longer the player she was in 2016. In 2016, we never expected she would win a medal. Now of course, after her performance then, everyone will be expecting a lot more from her this time around.”

“She’s had some problems here and there, some injury concerns and then a couple of COVID-19 interruptions. Still, she looks like she’s in a positive mood right now, there’s a lot of optimism surrounding her, and I fully expect her to do well. She’s always been a big-game player, she shows up on the biggest stages and performs excellently,” said Murgunde.

Sindhu’s preparations for the Olympics have seen her practice extensively in the Gachibowli stadium in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere and conditions that she will be competing in at Tokyo 2020. Murgunde praised the shuttler’s decision to do so, saying, “Sindhu has been practising in Gachibowli because it has a similar layout, and it’s quite big. When you go and play abroad, tournaments are mostly held in huge multipurpose stadiums. Sometimes the air conditioning systems are placed in a manner that works to cool down a stadium, but is not great for badminton, and affects the movement of the shuttlecock.”

“Sindhu is a very skilful player, as well as B Sai Praneeth. When you try to use your skills more, and that’s a large part of your strength, you don’t want any drift, because it really interferes with your strokes and impacts your accuracy. However, they’ve both already begun practising in the main hall, so I think they will have more than enough time to acclimatise to the conditions. The advantage this time is that there will be no spectators, so heavy air conditioning won’t be required.”

Men’s players to outperform expectations?

With PV Sindhu being the clear focus of attention in the badminton group, the men’s players have flown more or less under the radar, but Murgunde believes that B Sai Praneeth and the men’s doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chiraag Shetty have a lot going for them.

“I’ve always thought B Sai Praneeth is a really good player, and that he can beat anyone on his day, if he gets in the groove. Speaking of his draw, he’s played Misha Zilberman a few times, so he’s expected to win that match. Mark Caljouw is someone he’s not played, so it might be a difficult match. But he’s been watching Caljouw’s past performances and studying him, so he knows what he’s up against. If he’s in a good rhythm, he could go far,” said Murgunde.

Tokyo Olympics 2020 ExIndian shuttler Trupti Murgunde expects PV Sindhu to do well lauds B Sai Praneeths skills

File image of B Sai Praneeth. AFP

Murgunde also spoke highly of the men’s doubles pairing, and said that they have the drive to give it their all, despite being underdogs in their draw. “They have been on the competitive circuit for a while, they’ve played against top players so they’re seasoned. It is a little tough, but they’re heading in with a lot of confidence. They’ve played the top teams on multiple occasions, and they’ve come close to beating some big names in the past. They’ll be the underdogs, but if they can play freely and go all out, they could come up with big performances,” she said.

A strong Indian contingent

Many have touted this Olympics’ Indian contingent to be one of the best of all time, and Murgunde agreed with that assessment, saying, “I really want this Olympics to be the best possible Olympics for Indian sport. I think the preparations have been fantastic. The players, along with their coaches have received great support from the government and other systems in place. There’s better planning and infrastructure in place now. The only hiccup has been the pandemic, and the fact that not much sporting action has happened over the course of the last year.”

“Of course, there are players that are expected to do well like Mirabai Chanu and the archery team who are playing on the first day. If they do well, that will give a lot of confidence to players,” said Murgunde.

Watch the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on SONY SIX, SONY TEN 2 channels starting 23 July.



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