Mumbai: India should consider having a separate camp for doubles badminton players to improve the standard in this format, feels legendary shuttler Prakash Padukone.
"My suggestion to Badminton Association of India (BAI) and government would be to consider having a separate camp exclusively for doubles players, so that in the next 3-5 years we can improve the standard of all the three events (men's, women's and mixed doubles)," Padukone told reporters after the announcement of the Tata Open International Challenge.
The former badminton player pointed out that the format has been struggling, and a separate training camp and coach will help improving it.
"It is very evident that in the played (doubles) events we are not doing that well. I had suggested a few years back that we should have a separate camp only for the doubles players, in a separate place with a separate coach. We probably need a little funding from the government. We have a coach who looks after both singles and doubles but I think majority of his time is spent in training singles players," he said.
The Arjuna awardee further said that the players first try their luck in the singles format and if they don't succeed then they turn their attention to doubles.
"Right now because there is no separate camp and the focus is so much on singles, even though somebody's pet event is doubles, they will still play singles. Right now what is happening is that if you are not good in singles or if you don't make it then only you go for doubles. That should not be the case.
"Some people are naturally inclined towards doubles but they also play singles to try. If they don't make it by the age of 19 or 20 then they go for doubles. May be at the age of 9-10 if you have a good quality, like in cricket at a very young age you specialise. The camp should not be combined with singles. If it is in the same place, the focus will always be on singles," said Padukone.
The former All England Champion feels India have the
ability to be among the top four nations in the world with impressive performances by both men and women in singles.
"I think more and more countries need to come up and do well... And I am glad that India is catching up. We have a lot of talent and we can easily get into the top four in the world, especially in the singles events. We are good in both men's and women's singles," he said.
Padukone said the domestic structure needs to be strengthened and the top players must participate in them.
"Last 4-5 years I have been telling them to have a strong domestic structure. But sometimes even the top players don't take part in domestic circuit. Probably the selection for taking part in international tournament should be based on domestic performances.
"You play the domestic like they have done in cricket. If they (top players) are free, they should play in domestic circuit. They have to play the domestic circuit and not skip it. BAI has to strengthen the domestic circuit and only then more players will come up," he said.
Asked if Chinese domination is coming to an end with a few of the top players losing in events, Padukone said, "I think they still have the best talent in terms of depth. In a couple of tournaments they have not been able to do well compared to the very high standards they have set for themselves. It is good for the sport that one country is not dominating much."
However, he felt that China's talent pool is still quite large and with new players coming through, their domination over the sport was not yet over.
"You can't say the Chinese domination is over. They keep low for a short period. Anyway they have such a talent base, it is a matter of time before they bounce back," he said.
The Tata Open India International Challenge will kick off from tomorrow and concludes on December 14.
The tournament carries prize money of USD 15,000. H S Prannoy is the top-seeded player in the men's single, while P C Thulasi is the top-seed in the women's single.