Indian badminton finally gets a specialist doubles coach

The sports ministry has given its nod to Badminton Association of India’s long-standing demand for hiring specialist doubles coach ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

dna has reliably learnt that the ministry has agreed on the name of Malaysian Tan Kim Her till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

However, there is sad news for Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa as their demand to be included in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) has reportedly been turned down.

But Gutta and Ponnappa, who remain India’s best and only hope to win a medal in doubles event at the Rio Games, should feel happy that they will have the services of Tan Kim for the next one year before the Rio Games.

Gutta and Ponnappa’s title win at the Canada Open saw them reach their career-best ranking of World No. 7 in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) latest rankings, but the ministry did not consider their performance well enough to provide them funding under TOPS for training for Rio.

The Badminton Association of India’s (BAI) vice-president (administration), TPS Puri, too, admitted that the ministry has sounded the federation that there would be no more addition to the existing names of six players.

“The ministry has number constraint, so it would be difficult to add names of Jwala and Ashwini. The BAI would continue to support both of them like always and provide them funding for exposure trips,” Puri said on Wednesday.

Currently, an amount of Rs 30 crore has been allotted to badminton by the ministry, which covers six of India’s best singles players only and no doubles players at all.

“Tan Kim is a respected name in world badminton, especially in doubles discipline. He has been the chief doubles coach of England, South Korean and Malaysian teams. BAI believes he is the best person to take the Indian badminton in doubles event forward. He has been offered contract for five years, which means it will run till the 2020 Tokyo Games,” said Puri, adding: “His salary has been agreed upon somewhere between $7,500 and $8,000 per month.”

It has been learnt that the Malaysian will come to India next week and the delay is only because of the visa. He will be posted at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad and his performance will be evaluated every year.

In the recent past, many past and present players including Gutta had been vocal about appointing a specialist doubles coach. Indonesian Edwin Iriawan was the last doubles coach for the national team till 2013. It was under Iriawan and his predecessor Atik Jauhari that the Gutta-Ponnappa duo had their best results including the 2010 CWG gold and World Championship bronze medal.