Former India badminton coach Vimal Kumar is extremely disappointed with the way Indonesian doubles coach Flandy Limpele left abruptly in an Olympic year and said foreign appointees must be held accountable for departing without completing their tenures.
Limpele, who was hired last March, recently stepped down as India’s doubles coach citing family reasons, becoming the fourth such foreign coach to have resigned without completing the tenure.
“It was very unfortunate and unprofessional of Flandy to leave this way. When the doubles players had qualified for Olympics and had chances of doing well, to leave in the middle of it, I was disappointed,” said Vimal, who served as India’s chief national coach from 2003 to 2006.
“I had a long chat with him in January. He had said then that some players were not disciplined but he said he will work with them and then suddenly he left just before All England.”
Earlier, Korean Kim Ji Hyun, who guided PV Sindhu to a world championship gold, made an unceremonious exit last September.
Renowned Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo also resigned abruptly in late 2017 before joining the Singapore squad. Malaysia’s Tan Kim Her stepped down as India’s doubles coach early last year, 18 months before his tenure was to end.
“I think they have to be made accountable. We need to be very clear that they stick to the group, or the certain number of players that they have to handle. It should be in the contract. We are paying them huge money, so we have to take that responsibility. They just can’t walk off without notice,” he said.
Only four Indian shuttlers – Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy – are assured of a spot at the Tokyo Games. There is little hope that Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will be able to make the cut, especially after Badminton World Federation was forced to postpone all events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 57-year-old Vimal, who represented India at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said it will be sad to see Saina and Srikanth miss Olympics this time.
“They were going through a low phase for quite sometime and even if the qualifying tournaments happened, it would have taken a herculean task to qualify for Olympics. Even at the All England, their performance wasn’t very good,” he said.
“Srikanth needs a separate program regarding his physical training, take more initiative and find his way back. He might not play Olympics this time but can still come back and play at top level for 3-4 years. He had niggles so he couldn’t play attacking badminton.
“Saina also had injury issues. She is putting the effort in the practice sessions but not able to convert in match situations. It is sad that they are going through such a low phase. It will be a blow for Indian badminton, they missing out,” said Vimal, who had coached Saina from 2014 to 2017.
Srikanth and Saina are currently ranked 14th and 20th respectively in the BWF ranking with only the top 16 making the cut when the Olympic qualification deadline ends on April 28.
Vimal said Srikanth can still squeeze in if BWF freezes the ranking and doesn’t extend the qualification period.
“Srikanth is still 14th in ranking now and if BWF maintains this ranking till April 28, he can get lucky and still make it. Last India Open he was in the finals, that was the best he has performed,” he said.
“I think BWF is going to change their stance, they will stick with the April 28 deadline. It will also be difficult to push the tournaments back in. Every week there is an event happening, even in June, July there are other tournaments. There is the Thomas and Uber Cup tournament and it will happen if the situation improves. I don’t think they will be making any changes.”
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