PV Sindhu needed a fitness check – Prakash Padukone didn’t mince his words | Badminton news


Someone had to tell PV Sindhu that her goal in life should be a gold medal in the Olympics, and that she should not settle for a silver medal and a bronze medal, in resting on its laurels. Someone also had to tell Sindhu that even to dream of the said Paris gold medal, her fitness was far from perfect six months ago.

Prakash Padukone did not mince his words.

If he was going to start traveling with a player again after 25 years, he needed that player to meet his standards of excellence.

“Mr Prakash has told Sindhu (and Lakshya Sen) in no uncertain terms that he demands that they take responsibility for their careers. He told them that they were fortunate to have a good team but that they should not expect everyone to do things for them. Sindhu and Lakshya have never been in better shape. But now they are in amazing shape,” informs Viren Rasquinha, who while heading the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) projects, brought Sindhu Bengaluru team up together.

It was a difficult conversation with Sindhu, informs Rasquinha, after asking Padukone to be on the field. “Her physical fitness was well below Prakash sir’s standards, although to a layman she might have looked fit. He told her, ‘I’ll agree to work with you, if you’re fit and you pass all the sports science tests,'” Rasquinha recalled.

At 28, no one claims it will be easy. But Padukone was only going to be brought out of his happy semi-retirement if Sindhu set her sights on the unlikely top perch. (Photo: Viren Rasquinha)

Data-Driven Results

Sindhu’s game is traditionally built around fitness and her coach during the first Olympics, Pullela Gopichand, always insisted on micromanaging her strength and endurance markers when she won her first medals at the Olympic Championships. world and at the Rio Games. But Padukone simply laid down the rules: Every claim would be supported by data. “And we have amazing results. Sindhu is back to her Rio 2016 weight, like when she won silver,” informs Rasquinha. “She is now at her ideal weight, but she needed to work on her body fat percentage, peak power and muscle mass.”

Completely revamping her team, she was assigned a new nutritionist and a new strength and conditioning coach in Bangalore. “Sindhu remains so humble despite two (Olympic) medals and trusts her team. Plus, data doesn’t lie. We needed her to be able to push longer and play 3 sets,” says Rasquinha.

There’s no doubt that she’s improved: successfully slashing triggers An Se Young, Chen Yufei, and Carolina Marin. But wins against elite names are still elusive, with recurring instances of losing steam in the third set, even if she gave Yufei a scare at the French Open.

Padukone had said at the start of their association that being able to beat Tai Tzu Ying, Se Young and Yufei would be the real deal. Yet his game is now more varied and his attacking intent has disappeared as his career languished under defensive-minded Korean coach Park Tae Sang for two years.

At 28, no one claims it will be easy. But Padukone was only going to be brought out of his happy semi-retirement if Sindhu set her sights on the unlikely top perch.

Padukone had said at the start of their association that being able to beat Tai Tzu Ying, Se Young and Yufei would be the real deal. Yet his game is now more varied and his attacking intent has disappeared as his career languished under defensive-minded Korean coach Park Tae Sang for two years. (Photo: Viren Rasquinha)

Practical coaching

Saina Nehwal reached the All England and World Championship finals after moving to Bangalore, and much is expected from Sindhu’s move. “No, but Prakash sir was not involved in Saina’s tournament coaching. It was mostly Vimal sir. With Saina, he would sit in the back and give advice. But with Sindhu, he is back on the field. For the first time I see so much enthusiasm and he is on the pitch every day. He’s 68 years old, but his approach is refreshingly modern,” says Rasquinha.

He places great importance on ideal body weight and needs daily updates on blood work and tests performed in the sports science laboratory. Himself known for his deceptive strokeplay and net wizardry while maintaining an insane level of fitness, Padukone is under no illusion that simple racquet skills are enough. Sindhu’s aggressive game will always rely on power and her long range, but as these have strengthened, her shot selection has improved – gradually. But her team believes she is ready to fight for the decision-makers. As with a marathon runner, the training mileage is only 35 km away from the 42.195 km at this point. “It will improve more, but it will come down to fitness over these two Olympic weeks,” Rasquinha said.

The results are not very shocking against the Fab Four and Furious Marin. And the knee injury scared her a lot, but she’s giving herself a chance by improving her fitness.

“She will have to find the line between optimal fitness and injury prevention – when to push, when to recover,” says Rasquinha. Nehwal’s overtraining before 2016, where she was in top form, is a cautionary tale.

With Yufei, Tai Tzu Ying, He Bingjiao, Akane Yamaguchi and Se Young all walking the injury tightrope, Paris could well become interesting and be decided purely based on who makes it in their fittest avatar.

But Sindhu’s team is hoping for better rankings, even though they are currently at No.11. “We need to raise Sindhu and Lakshya’s ranking as high as possible, at least to the Top 8, so that they don’t have tough opponents at the start,” says Rasquinha. The Parisian top seeds require them to manage this tight calendar balance until the end of July.

Before Tokyo, Sindhu had imitated Tokyo’s judicial conditions. However, simulating Paris’ opponents isn’t high on Padukone’s list, and he doesn’t really believe in aligning his sparring partners with his rivals’ styles. “Sindhu has enough male players to train with. We had this discussion, but Mr. Prakash thinks no one can replicate the style exactly. (The Tai Tzu cannot be cloned in the laboratory). This cannot be an excuse. We won’t give it too much importance,” says Rasquinha. Sindhu 2024 can be upgraded though.

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