No shortcut to top, Budi tells shuttlers
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It's mid afternoon and after several hours of continuous training, the twenty or so players at the badminton hall at Faridabad's Manav Rachna School are tired. Indonesian coach Rizqi Budi Raharjo, however is unwilling to have any of it. He goads them to keep at it.
"Everyone wants to be the best but most are unwilling to work for it. The first thing I told them was that they have to be willing to work hard. All the talent which you have will count for nothing, unless you are willing to work and build on it," he says later.
While Budi is holding a 25 day camp at the school, he has been in India for a little over a year, for his stint at the Prakash Padukone Academy. According to the Indonesian, the main obstacle, Indians have to overcome is the lack of intensity in their training. "When I was coaching at the Padukone academy, I was really surprised to see some really talented players making excuses to avoid hard days. If they knew there was a heavy training day ahead, they would say that we have a headache or were feeling tired," he says.
The difference he says is stark compared to what he is used to back in Indonesia. "Back in Indonesia, the training is far stricter. For example in India, players will hesitate before doing one long distant run in two weeks. In Indonesia, they will do the same every week and also sprint and gym sessions," he says.
The damage, Budi says doesn't show up initially because most Indian players train the same way. But players struggle the moment they reach the international stage. "If you notice," he says, "India always start off well against the top teams. However, those guys always come back and win the match. It's because of the intensity at which they train. That intensity builds their stamina and strength and that is why you do not see too many Indian players break into the top-10, " says Budi, who after his camp in Delhi, will be returning to Indonesia as a coach of the national team there.
Budi argues that the reason could be cultural. "India's interest in badminton is relatively new. The current craze that I see has come up in the last four years or so with Saina Nehwal's international success. In countries like Indonesia and China, the badminton culture is already well established. We have a lot of players who are competitive internationally. So all our young players are already prepared for a high level of competition at the local stage itself."
Although Budi doesn't seem to be too upbeat about the state of affairs in Indian badminton, he does say that there are several positive signs. "In the Padukone Academy, there is a boy, Lakshay Sen, who has a combination of immense talent and a strong work ethic. I also have friends who coach in the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad and they say the players there are undergoing exactly the kind of intensive training I am talking about," he says.
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