Commonwealth medals, check. Olympic Medals, check. World No. 1 ranking, check. Over the past few years, Indian badminton has seen the emergence of a number of shuttlers who promise to take Indian badminton to new heights. The country has always had one shining light in a generation, whether you take Prakash Padukone or Pullela Gopichand. However this generation has seen a number of potential champions emerge.
The charge towards the top has been led by Saina Nehwal. Her achievements are nothing short of exemplary, culminating in her world number one ranking which she achieved last week at the Indian Super Series where she beat rival Ratchanok Intanon in straight sets. On her way to the summit, she has won an Olympic Bronze, and 3 Commonwealth Medals. She hasn’t been the only Indian woman in the fray however. PV Sindhu too has charted her way to the top 10 ranking, consistently doing well at the Super Series and BWF Grand Prix. What makes their achievements even more impressive is that the victories have come at a time when the Chinese contingent, historically dominant on the court, has produced some of its best players in the form of Shixian Wang and Liu Xuerui. Moreover, Carolina Marin, Ratchanok Intanon and Tine Baun, all from different countries are young and some of the best in the world at present. Thus, Nehwal’s and Sindhu’s achievements are even more commendable.
It is not just the women who have shown, however. The Renaissance period for Indian Badminton began with the emergence of Parupalli Kashyap, who was the first Indian to reach the Men’s Singles quarter finals at the Olympic Games. This was followed by a Commonwealth Games Gold and consistent performances in the Super Series events. Kashyap has however been beset by a spate of freak injuries, hurting his form. This has allowed Kidambi Srikkanth, RV Gurusaidutt and HS Prannoy to enter the limelight. All three of the new kids on the block have punched above their weight at a number of competitions and have become serious competitors to the likes of Lin Dan, Chen Long and Tommy Sugiarto.
A lot of the credit must be given to Pullela Gopichand and Prakash Padukone for developing badminton at the grassroots, as well as Olympic Gold Quest for arranging the funding so that the nation and its athletes can achieve its potential as a sporting superpower.
Maybank Malaysian Open Update: Coming down from the high that we experienced at the Indian Open, where Srikkanth and Nehwal won both the Men’s and Women’s titles, Saina Nehwal now remains the only Indian in the fray in the entire tournament. Here’s to another tournament win!