Gopichand to skip Thomas Cup

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> All England champion Pullela Gopichand will not be available for the Thomas Cup later this month due to injury.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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In what is bad news for Indian badminton, All England champion Pullela Gopichand will not be available for the Thomas Cup later this month. Today was the first day when Gopi picked up the racquet after a six-week layoff because of his ankle fracture. NDTV met him on the courts in Hyderabad. Gopichand was seen in action for the first time in action after his ankle fracture in December. But today is only the first day of practise sessions. Gopi says the ankle is still healing and so he will not play in the Thomas Cup later this month. "Just now I have started training and the Thomas Cup is just two weeks from now. And that is too short a period to prepare for a big event,'' Gopi said. His absence also means that India will not enter the tournament with much hope but Gopi is hopeful. "We might have a chance to qualify. We have teams like Germany, England and Sweden, which we have to beat to qualify. And on a given day, maybe it is a little difficult but we definitely do have chances. All the three singles become all the more important,'' felt Gopi. India's campaign in this year's Thomas Cup will undoubtedly suffer in Gopi's absence. However, by informally taking over as coach for the young shuttlers, Gopi is ensuring Indian badminton hopes in the future do not hinge on just one player. With Gopi opting out of the Thomas Cup, the All-England championship will be his first major tournament this year. Gopi who will defend his title in London in March, will hope lack of match practise does not prove to be his Achilles heel.

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