New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Legendary Malaysian badminton player Rashid Sidek says India's Saina Nehwal looks good to win a medal at the World championships next month in Guangzhou, China.
"I think India definitely has a chance of winning a medal at the World Championships. Saina really has a good chance as her game has the quality to win medals. Whether it is a gold, silver or bronze is up to her. About the rest of the players, I am not sure," the 1996 Atlanta Olympics men's singles bronze medallist told IANS.
India till date has won only two bronze medals at the Tier-1 event. Prakash Padukone won in men's singles way back in 1983 at Copenhagen while women's doubles pair Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa did it in 2011 at London.
"But not winning at worlds does not mean Indian shuttlers are not good. I follow Indian badminton and I think they are quite good. In men's singles they are performing well at the international stage. Your coach (Pullela) Gopichand has done a good job finding good players, improving them and the result is that Indians are seen in quarterfinals and semifinals of Super Series' and winning Grands Prix," said the 45-year-old, who also won two men's singles golds at the 1990 and 1994 Commonwealth Games.
"K. Srikanth won the Thailand Open. Parupalli Kashyap, R.M.V. Gurusaidutt, B. Sai Praneeth, H.S. Prannoy all have the quality. P.V. Sindhu is also very good. She recently won the Malaysia Open and at 18, she is beating top players.
You never know, in Rio Olympics they may get a medal for India. They are only 19-20 years old. It is a long way for them. With experience and proper training they will get better," added the Malaysian, who comes from a badminton family with all his five brothers excelling in the sport for their country.
However, when asked about the doubles scene in India, the former World No.1 did not sound too optimistic.
"India is not strong in doubles. The focus is more on singles. To top in doubles, kids need to train from a young age, say 13-14. Also, most of them want to play singles because of more money and popularity these days," said Rashid, who also won the Thomas Cup for Malaysia.
Rashid is in India to coach the Delhi Smashers franchise of the Indian Badminton League (IBL) which starts Aug 14-31. The IBL players' auction is scheduled July 22.
(Sandip Sikdar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)