Nepali Times Asian Paints
Sports
"Gold will be difficult"



Malaysian badminton coach Annamalai Sankar is in town for two weeks to train the Nepali badminton squad before it heads off to the South Asian Games. Nepali Times caught up with him on Tuesday:

Tell us a little about yourself and what brought you to Nepal?
I was invited here to help the national side with their training. In Malaysia, I have coached two top state teams, Kuala Lumpur and Perak. Many of my players, including current world number one doubles player Kin Keat Koo, now play for the national team. I also coached the Sri Lankan girl's team which qualified for the 2008 Olympics for the first time in many years.

What do you think about the Nepali team?
They are all so young, many just 16-22 years old, and eager to learn. They are also strong and fast. But their strokes and form need improving. I'll focus on that.

What do you think of the badminton establishment here?
First, the infrastructure and system are not good. There aren't enough domestic tournaments, the lighting in the main stadium is bad, and the same court is shared by many different sports teams. I could only train them for two hours today because of a schedule conflict. Second, players only train in the lead-up to major tournaments so naturally lag behind other teams.

What are our chances at SAG?
A gold medal will be difficult. Our players are very young, and will be competing against experienced players, some in their 30s and 40s! Also, the Indian and Sri Lankan teams are very good. But some Nepali players show promise. On the men's side, Ratnajeet Tamang and Sajan Krishna Tamrakar are good and I've asked the Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC) to sponsor them. I think our women's team has a very real chance at getting a medal. Watch out for Sara Devi Tamang, Pooja Shrestha and Sabina Panthi.

You have trained several teams in the region. Who are you rooting for?
Let the best man win. I have no preference!



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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