"Hope This Will Take Them To Next Level": Badminton Doubles Coach Mathias Boe On India's Thomas Cup Win
Talking to NDTV, India's doubles badminton coach Mathias Boe opened up on the historic Thomas Cup win and how it will help increase the confidence of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy.
India's men's badminton team had to wait for the longest time to win a Thomas Cup title and this wait came to an end last Sunday, when the contingent defeated 14-time champions Indonesia to win a gold medal at the event for the very first time. In the final, Lakshya Sen, Chirag Shetty, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Kidambi Srikanth were at their best and India sealed the contest within the first three matches. Doubles coach Mathias Boe witnessed history from close quarters and in a conversation with NDTV, he opened up on his training methods and how this win will help Chirag and Satwik going ahead.
In the summit clash between India and Indonesia, India took a 1-0 lead after Lakshya Sen beat Indonesia's Anthony Ginting in the first match. After this, India further improved their lead to 2-0 after Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty came from a game down to beat Mohammad Ahsan and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 18-21, 23-21, 21-19. In the third match of the final, Kidambi Srikanth triumphed over Jonatan Christie and in the end, India went on to script history in front of a jam-packed crowd at Impact Arena in Bangkok.
"Well, obviously I am really thrilled. Extremely proud of the team and Indian badminton in general. Most people generally do not understand how difficult it is to win Thomas Cup, you need a team of 10 players, all at the same time, playing their absolute best and that is quite remarkable that it was possible and it shows how many good players are there in India now. To be a part of this team and be a coach of the team that has won Thomas Cup is something to be extremely proud of. I really love to win," Boe told NDTV.
"As an athlete, you always need confidence and you get that by playing well and winning. That is the most important thing. What can happen is when you have big wins like this, you can gain confidence and play better or you can just go party all day and then not get any better. My job is to help them stay focused and use this win in the most positive way so we can get more titles in the future. You grow as an athlete when you win so I hope this will take them to the next level also," he further stated.
Chirag and Satwik bowed out of the Tokyo Olympics last year in the group stage and this brought an end to Mathias' contract as India doubles coach. However, sometime after, he returned to coach the badminton side once again and he revealed what made him return to the court.
"I missed being on the circuit a bit, I was bored. With events like Thomas Cup, even where before I was hired, I felt we had a good chance to win. Obviously, with Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, there are some exciting Championships and it is something I know means a lot to the players and the country. I missed being a part of badminton tour so when the chance was there to pick up another short-term contract, and while my girlfriend is busy this summer, it made a lot of sense for me to come back and see if I could try and get some of these medals for the team," said the 41-year-old.
"Well, it is very difficult to perform at your highest level in a final so I am ofcourse, really happy that Chirag and Satwik were able to do that and play some of their best badminton at this stage in a Thomas Cup final. It is not an easy achievement. They were down and out 19-15 but they still kept fighting. We were also lucky as you do not come back from a 19-15 down in the second set, that was a tremendous match and I am proud of the boys," he stated further.
Lastly, talking about his coaching style and what sorts of sessions he prefers, Boe said: "I think when I came to Hyderabad before the Olympics, I changed quite a bit there in terms of the structure in practice. Normally, the sessions there have been generally longer and maybe with breaks in between. I am more like, that high-intensity sessions are better. Badminton matches normally average 45 minutes and you need to stay focused for 45 minutes. In my world, it does not make sense to practice three and a half hours in a row because that is not what we do in a tournament. So, in my sessions, I try to keep it at 2-2.5 hours, including warm-ups where we are just leaving it all out there. As soon as players are not 100 per cent there, I will try and encourage them to stay back and get on track so that they stay sharp. That is the culture I have been brought up with, that is the culture we have always used in Denmark and with a country of only 5.5 million, how many badminton champions we have created throughout history is quite remarkable."
"I go over quality over quantity so I do not want them to practice more than they could be at their absolute best. As soon as they get tired or mentally a little bit off, it is better to stop the session. If they can go these 45 minutes as a normal badminton match, then everything is good because that means they have a really good chance of winning. Might be a little different from what the culture normally is, but it seems like the players like it. The only thing players need to be wary of when we do these high-intensity sessions, they stay injury-free and that is something difficult for a young player to understand their body and how they react to these intense sessions," he signed off.