Youngsters need to work on speed for int'l success: Popat
Press Trust of India
New Delhi, September 5

National women's champion Aparna Popat says upcoming shuttlers should start working on their speed if they want to make a mark on the international scene.

Popat, who has been single handedly carrying the Indian flag in the women's circuit for the last four-five years now, said there was a vast difference in speed at which badminton is played domestically and internationally and the youngsters should work on bridging this gap.

"There is a vast difference in the style of play here and on the interantional circuit. We have worked a lot towards body strength but still we are very slow compared to the top countries," she said.

The 26-year-old is currently ranked 24th in the world and was the only Indian to qualify directly for the just concluded Athens Olympic Games.

The Bangalore-based shuttler put up stiff resistance against eventual silver medallist and fourth seed Mia Audina of The Netherlands in the second round but was made to bite the dust 9-11 11-1 11-3.

Popat, who fought her way back to take the first game after trailing 6-9, was definitely unhappy over the final outcome and said she lost the plot in the next two games.

"My game plan did not work in the next two games. I lost the plot," said Popat, who had defeated Michelle Edwards of South Africa in the first round in the Olympics.

On what needs to be done to bridge the gap between the domestic and international level, the Indian Oil employee said "it is essential that the coaches closely study the game of the leading players and try and bring necessary changes in the style of play of the youngsters."

"But it will be wrong to say that Indian shuttlers should overnight chance their style to challenge them. It is difficult for us to do it since we are not trained that way and it may lead to injuries.

"But the youngsters can start training that way from the beginning and it will surely help."

Trupti Murgunde, who is tipped to follow in Popat's footsteps on the international scene but has failed to make a mark so far, attributes the failure to some erratic play and also to some "wrong" tournament selection.

"I have not played that well on the international stage. But if we see the tournaments we participate in, they are either grand prix or big championships where all top players participate. This eventually pits us against top players in the qualifiers itself."

Murgunde said it would do a world of good for the upcoming players if they were sent to smaller tournaments in the early stages of their careers as they can then improve their world ranking and also gain much needed experience before facing the top guns.

The 22-year-old, ranked 106 in the world, will be playing in the Asian Satellite Meet in Singapore starting on Monday.