Availability of good equipment made huge difference in Indian shuttlers performance: Pullela Gopichand

India’s chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand on Saturday highlighted the challenges faced by the country’s shuttlers in the past and said that the availability of the good equipment has made a huge difference in their performance in the recent years.

Speaking at the announcement event of opening Yonex-Sunrise’s manufacturing unit in Bengaluru for making high-quality graphite racquets, the legendary player recalled the time of his career when the shuttlers used to face challenges due to non-availability of the equipment.

“By the time I played my first International, the standard of Indian badminton was really low. So low, that in the year 1994, India did not send a team for the Auckland Commonwealth Games because it was felt that the side did not have a chance to be among the top-8, and this is what our standard was back then. Compare that today to what we have achieved at Thomas Cup last year is something which is remarkable, a turnaround for Indian badminton,” Gopichand said during a press conference in the national capital.

“I remember, we had a lot of challenges playing the sport and one of the biggest challenges was getting equipment. You always struggle because we were playing with the shuttles made locally, which had a different trajectory to the ones which were played internationally. So, we would have been missing shut-ins when we played abroad because the shuttle would move in a particularly different direction. And this was 1992-93, nothing, be with India, opening up. Yonex and Sunrise coming to India made a huge difference for us because now equipment was made available to us,” he added.

The All England winner also underlined the role played by Yonex in the rise of Indian badminton on the global stage and said the new initiative was just another step to empower Indian badminton.

“In the last few years Yonex Sunrise has made a huge difference to Indian badminton, Whether it be the 2008 Olympics where for the first time an Indian player reached the quarterfinals, 2010 CommonWealth Games when we had our best performance, in 2012 when India won its first bronze medal at the Olympics, in 2014 when we won our first men’s singles Commonwealth Medal, or 2016 when we won the first Olympic silver medal I think Indian badminton is moved step by step over so much, so that last 10 years consistently we have medals at every world championships. Yonex has been an integral part of India’s success story in world badminton,” he said.

The new graphite racquets were unveiled in the presence of Ben Yoneyama, Chairman of YONEX Japan, R Hanawa, President of YONEX India, Vikramaditya Dhar, Managing Director, Sunrise Sports India Pvt Ltd and India national coach Gopichand.

Yonex, official equipment partner for the Badminton Association of India, will now manufacture high-quality graphite racquets in the country, expanding its existing production plan and base in India, a move which will bring the cost of full-body racquets down considerably.

The production of racquets in India will also ensure the product’s prices reduce by 20-30 per cent than the current market rates and it will be available by May this year.

“India is a big market for badminton with its growing economy and interest in the sport. A lot of Indian players are performing really well on the world stage, encouraging more to take up the sport. We want to cater to that audience and provide the highest Japanese quality equipment to further the sport’s development,” said Ben Yoneyama.

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