Former Indian player Prakash Padukone said that in order to improve the mental aspect he feels that top shuttler’s Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu should engage a sports psychologist at earliest to win medals at the Rio Olympics.
“I think Olympics is a test of mental character. Whoever is mentally strong will probably win the gold, not just in women’s singles but in any sport. Olympics is a different ball game. You can win all the other tournaments, but if you are mentally not strong you can never win the Olympics,” said Prakash in an interview to PTI here.
“It’s important that you prepare well mentally. I would advise Sindhu and Saina to focus a little more on the mental aspect and, if required, take the help of some sports psychologist, if they feel comfortable. But they should start right now because one month or so (before the Games) won’t help. It would need six to eight months.
“If I was in their place I would probably take the help of a sports psychologist as all other aspects like specialist trainer, physio and coach are being taken care of. Some people believe, some don’t that it might help. I believe so. Ultimately Olympics is a test of character.
“It does not matter how well you perform the week before or the week after, (but) you have to make sure you reach the peak during the week when the badminton event is happening. It’s extremely difficult to predict who will win. The difference is so little at that level. Whoever is strong mentally will win the title,” the 1980 All-England men’s single champion emphasized.
“We have a good chance, especially in the ladies singles. The top two – Saina and Sindhu – have beaten all the top players at one time or the other. It may not be necessarily in the same tournament; that should happen now,” said the Bengaluru-based Prakash whose academy is into its 21st year of existence now.
“It does not mean they don’t have a chance, but it will be tough. This is (also) the best chance we have. Initially for men, at least, the key for them would be to make sure they qualify before the April 30 cut-off. May be one or two may qualify. For women that issue is not there. For men, it’s still open.
“It could be a toss up between K Srikkanth, P Kashyap, who is injured now, (H S) Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram, two (among these) have a good chance to qualify (for Rio Games),” said the 1978 Commonwealth Games singles champion.