Ah red tape red tape!!


Gopichand shuttles between hope and despair
PAUL BENJAMIN

TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ FRIDAY, OCTOBER 04, 2002 08:44:18 PM ]

HYDERABAD: It's less than a week for open events in the Asian Games' badminton competition to get underway, but the country's top shuttler Pullela Gopichand still has no clue whether he will be travelling to South Korea at all.


By virtue of being India's No. 1 player, he gets an automatic entry in the Asian Games, but the Badminton Association of India (BAI) still requires government clearance. In the absence of any communique either from the government or the Indian Olympic Association till Thursday, BAI is keeping Gopichand on tenterhooks.


Although Gopichand has been making preparations for the trip, he was unsure about getting the nod. "The BAI's response was lukewarm when I called up this (Friday) morning. Now, it's upto them and the government. I'm not going to make any efforts to reach them," Gopichand said.


"I need not convince anybody of my form or say that I'm a medal prospect. It's upto those who take decisions. As far as I'm concerned, I do feel I stand a good medal chance."


A look at his recent performances is enough to convince one of his chances at the Asiad. Gopichand made the last four at the Japan Open in April and, in Singapore last month, he beat World No. 1 Lin Dan in the first round. He also had a win against Indonesian star Hendrawan.


Certain that he is returning to form, Gopichand has been training hard for Busan. He is also keen to play for the country since he did not have a chance to take part in the Thomas Cup as India failed to qualify.


Gopichand has set himself a rigorous training schedule with the help of National coach Mohammed Arif, but BAI's decision not to participate in the team event came as a big disappointment. However, since he was assured of a direct entry, he was at least hopeful of playing in the open event which also appears doubtful now.


And this is not the first time that Gopichand has found himself in a piquant situation.