Can new coach Hafiz Hashim arrest the dip in Sindhu’s form?
Pulella Gopichand, childhood coach and mentor, feels personal coaches is a trend now
The P.V. Sindhu fans greeted the news of her tie-up with Indonesian ace Mohammed Hafiz Hashim as the new personal coach with enthusiasm on social media on Tuesday. However, it remains to be seen if the move helps the two-time Olympic medallist, the only Indian woman athlete to do so, arrest her dip in form.
‘’HERE WE GO! In typical Fabrizio style, I am thrilled to announce that Hafiz Hashim is my new coach,’’ said a beaming Sindhu as she posted her photo with the 2003 All England winner on Twitter. ‘’After a long drawn out process, I am ecstatic to declare that I have chosen the incredible Hafiz Hashim as my coach,’’ said Sindhu, currently in Yeosu for the Korea Open Super 500 tournament.
Ever since coming back after an lay-off forced by a knee journey in January this year, Sindhu had not quite been the same player and as per current BWF rankings, she has slipped to No.17 - going down below the top 10 bracket last year for the first time since 2016. The qualifying for Paris Olympics 2024 has started from May 1, and Sindhu’s desperation to seek the perfect roadmap to the next Olympics is showing as she wants to cap it with a golden finish after her silver (Rio 2016) and bronze in Tokyo.
The choice of Hashim is not an overnight one for Sindhu, who had parted ways with her childhood coach and mentor Pulella Gopichand much before Tokyo to collaborate with the amiable Park Tae-Sang as her personal coach. The Korean was a constant feature on the court side during her campaign in Tokyo Olympics (2021) and Birmingham Commonwealth Games last year.
However, in February this year, Sindhu parted ways with Park and announced that she had signed up the Indonesian ace Hashim as her coach for next two years. The clearance from Sports Authority of India (SAI) for Hashim’s appointment came under the federal government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), clearing the decks for Sindhu to go public with the announcement.
In a statement earlier this year, Park owned up for the patchy form of his famous ward since return from injury. ‘’She (Sindhu) has made disappointing moves in all recent matches, and as a coach, I feel responsible. So, she wanted a change and she said she would find a new coach. I decided to respect and follow her decision.’’
The role of Gopichand behind shaping the careers of the two divas of Indian badminton –Saina Nehwal and then Sindhu had been stuff of folklore. However, Nehwal had once parted ways with him to reach out to Vimal Kumar in Bengaluru (before coming back again) while Sindhu had stepped out of her comfort zone at Gopichand’s academy in Hyderabad to start practising at Suchitra Badminton Academy.
The Dronacharya awardee Gopichand, who has his hands full as the chief coach of the national team felt it was often a individual call of the players to go for personal coaches rather than sticking to him. Speaking to the media last month, he said there was no need for any ‘’concern’’ over Sindhu’s form and backed her decision to opt for a personal coach.
‘’In general, the rigours of having to play back-to-back, players have started to feel that they need personal coaches,’’ said Gopichand. ‘’If one has won then everybody starts to believe that they do need one. This is something that has been happening.
‘’In the Olympic year, it's everybody's need to have that personal attention. I think it's a trend that has started, many also follow it in other sports. I'm okay with that,’’ he added.