Shuttle-speed: Srikanth’s performance a silver lining for Indian badminton
By Gaurav Khanna
I must say the events of the last week have been a shot in the arm for Indian badminton. The fact that Kidambi Srikanth won a silver medal at the World Championships is indeed a silver lining for Indian badminton. What was equally satisfying was the fact that Lakshya Sen became the youngest shuttler ever to make it to the semi-finals was very heartening factor for me. I can stick my neck out and say that Indian badminton is reaching its pinnacle. Of course, PV Sindhu losing in the quarter finals was something of a dampener.
Who would have thought a week before the World Championships that an Indian men’s singles player would be competing in the final. Till now in the men’s singles, only two Indians, Prakash Padukone and Sai Praneeth, had won bronze medals in the 36- year old history of the World Championships. In that context, I think the exemplary performances of Srikanth and Lakshya bear testimony to the fact that our shuttlers are among the best in the world.
I must say here that things have been looking good for Indian badminton ever since Gopi Chand won the All England way back in 2000. I think his All England win was the watershed event which has altered the course of Indian badminton. If a catalyst was required to inspire a generation of Indians, I think that was ‘The Win’ which did the trick. After all for any sport to flourish, you need a superstar with a big title. I can recount how the likes of a Bjorn Borg (5 time Wimbledon champion) ushered in a tennis revolution in Sweden.
Thereafter, I feel more and more parents in India felt that if they could bear some hardships and financially support their children, it could bear results. Mind you, badminton is a very expensive sport and if one were to factor in the costs of sending somebody to a professional academy, then the costs hit the roof. So, parents are taking a ‘big risk’ when they decide to send their ward to pursue a career in professional badminton in this country.
Coming back to the exploits of Srikanth and Lakshya, I must commend their parents for the excellent job they have done. Not just in terms of putting in tons of money, but also backing their children to the hilt. The role of the parents is never highlighted and it’s here that I would single them out for special praise.
Finally, I would like to mention that Indian badminton is on the way up and we have to further encourage more youngsters to take to the game. Only then can we have a solid talent nursery from where more Srikanth’s and Lakshya’s emerge.
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