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Indian badminton team leaves

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, AUG.7 The three member Indian badminton squad for the Olympics comprising Abhinn Shyam Gupta, Nikhil Kanetkar and Aparna Popat, along with coach U. Vimal Kumar left here today for New Delhi en route to Athens.

"We have a serious business at hand and a taxing time ahead of us and I am happy with the way the players had prepared for the Olympcis said Vimal Kumar. "All the three are very experienced and had performed reasonably well at international competitions in the past. But then Olympics is different and playing there itself is incredibly an emotional affair," said Vimal Kumar, who had represented the county at the Olympics at Barcelona in 1992.

Vimal said the draw should play an important part in the Indians fortunes at the game. "Though they are not seeded, couple of good early matches, should help them to peak for the event," he said.

The coach also said that immediate task at Athens on arrival is to find sparring partners from other teams. "I plan to talk to other national coaches and ensure that our players get enough practice matches with others,'' he said.

The National women's champion Aparna Poat, said that she had trained well for the past three months at SAI. "Though, I did not get to play any competitions, it should not make much difference, because prior to the Olympic training stint, I had played in enough competitions."

Abhinn Shyam Gupta, a patient player with a sound defensive game, said "I am excited about the prospect of playing at Athens. I hope to give a good account of myself, '

Nikhil Kanetkar made it to the Olympics, after the higher ranked Candaians pulled out, but then he was mentally prepared that. "My qualification did not come as a surprise and I knew I was in with a chance of making it to Athens. Now that I am on way there, I will do my best," he said.

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