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"Stop Discrimination Between Sports"

Pullela Gopichand spoke to Outlook in New Delhi on his arrival from England:

"Stop Discrimination Between Sports"
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After All England, do you feel you can go even higher?
Every player dreams of it. Now I know that I can beat the best in the world. It is important for me to fulfil my potential. I would definitely like to see that I’ve won many more titles at the end of my career.

Was your early loss at the Sydney Olympics your biggest regret?
Certainly. Had I got a medal at Sydney, I would have been more relaxed now. I had really slogged... I couldn’t have trained even 1 per cent more. I was very disappointed. I was in my best form a week before the Olympics. Even a month after the games, I was in peak form.

Do you feel India is too cricket-centric a nation?
If a corporate wants to invest in a cricketer, it is his wish. But I think the government should not discriminate. A cricketer bags an Arjuna award after playing for two years. But not so when it comes to sportsmen from other fields. This is not right.

Does Padukone’s absence from bai’s decision-making mechanism make a difference?
It has been only a few months since Prakash sir has left, so his principles are still being followed. Things have improved. Now players are also heard.

Why did you quit Prakash Padukone’s Academy?
I thought I needed to train differently. I was also getting stuck in the 30s (ranking). So I decided to venture out. But I can always return to the academy.

How will the change in the game format affect you?
It is too early to say. It is a major change but will help aggressive players like me. But it also means a shift in strategy and a host of new players will come up... Exciting days ahead.

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