Ever since P.V.Sindhu has been continuing her winning streak in World Championship by winning the silver medal, the focus has been shifted to her coach Pullela Gopichand again. But there’s one more person in the team who deserves the attention and whose work aided in our stars’ achievements. Dr. Kiran Challagunda is the physiotherapist who has been away from the media limelight. This 38-year old man is the face behind the fitness of many badminton players like Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, P.V. Sindhu among others.
The success of these stars can be attributed much to their fitness routine. We can take the example of the final match between Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara as the testimony of the fitness levels of our players. Kiran has been working with them and making them stronger and fitter. He played a crucial role in ensuring she stayed 100 percent fit in the run-up to Rio and at the Olympics. Even in the context of Saina Nehwal’s serious injury, his role cannot be overemphasised. Their victories show the years of hard work this dedicated man has put in.
In the recent World Championship, Sindhu fought her heart out for more than 110 minutes before going down. Despite the loss, the levels of fitness that Sindhu showed deserve a special note of appreciation. The work Kiran put in this context is remarkable. He feels that there is no benchmark for fitness and we just need to get better than the rest.
According to Kiran, fitness differs from athlete to athlete. Different kinds of training works to pump up different athletes. For some, long distance running works, for some working out in the gym works better. So as a physio, you need to understand the sportsperson’s body. That happens by trial and error. But at the same time, one needs to take care how much to push the athlete, because if you push more, it can lead to injury. There is no one formula.
As badminton has now become more like a rally game, it boils down to how long it lasts. The skill set has become the same for all the players so it comes down to how long one can last. So fitness becomes more crucial in today’s game.
Him teamed up with the scrutinized coaching of Gopichand are playing a major role in improving the face of badminton in India. However skilled a player is, if he’s not fit enough it surely is a lack. So Kiran should definitely be appreciated for making our players reach their set fitness standards. And let’s hope that this trio will continue their legacy an win many medals in the future too!
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