By Anuj Mishra
Bhubaneswar (Odisha) [India], December 25 (ANI): Indian athletes might be preparing hard for the 2024 Paris Games but para-badminton national coach Gaurav Khanna’s prime focus remains on nurturing the raw talent for the 2028 Los Angeles and 2032 Brisbane Games.
The Indian para-badminton squad won four medals in the 2020 Tokyo Games and since then the team has been performing well with the recent victories coming in the Uganda Para-Badminton International 2021 where the contingent won 47 medals.
“My foremost duty now is to look for the talent not only for 2024 (Olympic Games) but basically for 2028, 2032, and 2036 Paralympics and nurture them. Yes everybody was anxious to know how the four medals that we won in the Tokyo Paralympics would help in raising the interest of people in para-badminton,” coach Gaurav Khanna told ANI on the sidelines of the ongoing fourth National Para-Badminton Championship here in Bhubaneswar.
“So that has been proved since we have received more than 500 entries in the ongoing tournament (Para-Badminton National championship) and we have to use to venues to manage the quantum of matches,” he added.
The 45-year-old coach also highlighted how the remarkable feat of para-athletes in the Tokyo Games has inspired people to take up the sport. The national close has his eyes on players who are giving a tough fight in the ongoing National Para-Badminton Championship.
“In the initial rounds since we have a separate qualification draw for those who have come for the very first time and for those who are unseeded and we have separated the seeding players in the main draw,” said Gaurav Khanna.
“So who are new, this is a challenging task ahead of them. As a coach I have been keeping my eyes on players, who are performing well in the showpiece event,” he added.
Coach Gaurav Khanna knows things are not that easy as it seems to be but he wishes to see more such tournaments being orgainised at least at the regional level.
“Things have to be very feasible, yes state level or district level tournaments should be there. It’s need of the hour to have tournaments like these at all levels from the grassroots level up to the elite national level,” said Gaurav Khanna.
“But in any case, this may not be practically feasible, I would say yes I wish there has to be some talent and search programmes which needs to be organised at least region-wise (like North, South zones, etc). So that we can spot them, nurture them and refine them to be good athletes,” he signed off. (ANI)