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Dipankar optimistic of India�s medal prospects

By Kausav Baruah

GUWAHATI, July 28 - One of the finest badminton players the country has ever produced and two time Olympian Dipankar Bhattacharjee is very much optimistic regarding India�s medal prospects at the upcoming Rio Olympics.

In an exclusive telephonic interview to The Assam Tribune, Assam�s first Olympian in an individual event talked about a number of aspects regarding India�s medal prospects at the Rio Olympics as well as the deteriorating state of badminton in Assam.

�I have definitely got high hopes in badminton. I am expecting Saina to win a medal at least. She is much more steady and stable now. She has the guidance of Prakash Padukone and Vimal Kumar. On the other hand we have players like K Srikanth who went on to win the China Open defeating Lin Dan. PV Sindhu is another contender and if she can keep herself cool, I think she will be able to clinch a medal,� said the former national singles champion.

Bhattacharjee, a the three-time national champion (1994, �95 and �96) and two-time Olympian (1992, 1996) also wished Assam�s Shiva Thapa the very best for his second Olympics.

Being asked regarding what would be his suggestions for Shiva, Bhattacharjee said: �Boxing is a different sport but I just want to wish him all the very best for the Olympics. Being a sportsperson myself, I would like to say that focus should always be there.�

The Indian Oil Corporation officer who is currently posted in Mumbai also shared his Olympic experience as well as how it is different from any other sporting event.

�To play at the Olympics is an unique experience and it is a dream for every sportsperson. Even I had that dream to represent my country at the biggest sporting event. The year I became eligible to play at the Olympics and that year itself badminton was included in the Olympics. Badminton was for the first time included in 1992 and I would say I was very lucky.

�To be able to meet the stars of different sports and to be able to stay at the same place and share your experience with them is certainly unique. The way the Olympic Games are being conducted is just awesome and to accommodate more than 200 countries at a Games village with so much coordination is something exceptional.�

Dipankar first made his presence at the pre-quarter finals of Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992 and then at the Atlanta Olympic Games where he made it to the second round. He also set a record at the national level by holding the number one rank for six consecutive years (1991-1996).

Once a force to reckon at the national badminton scenario, Assam has failed to produce top badminton players over the last decade.

Regarding the current scenario of Assam badminton, Bhattacharjee said: �It�s a case of sheer mismanagement and nothing else. Which once used to be our strength with Assam in a position as one of the top badminton playing States has been completely damaged by sheer mismanagement. The people in command of Assam badminton are more focused towards other aspects.

�After having produced so many top class players and excluding them as they are doing, one cannot go ahead. They must be included, including me, Sushanta Bora, Madhurjya Baruah, Mallika Baruah among others went on to represent India. Now some of them who are managing badminton are people who have not played at that level. So what can we expect from them and once we complained that we don�t have infrastructure but we have everything now. We didn�t have expert guidance when we played but Assam produced some of the finest talents and today those former players are not being approached for any assistance which is very sad.�

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