Four of hope. at the BWF Badminton World Championships | Jobi Cool


As it happened after some usual performances of the Olympic year, K. Srikanth, Lakshya Sen and H.S. Pranno’s performances at the recent BWF Badminton World Championships received the proverbial “silver lining”. The trio, ranked 14th to 19th in the world, advanced to the quarter-finals before youngster Lakshya won the bronze and Srikanth gave the country its first world silver in men’s singles. This heart-warming display eased the disappointment of women’s champion PV Sindhu’s quarter-final defeat. In fact, the true extent and timing of these men’s achievements could be better understood when seen against the backdrop of the failed crop of Indian teenage talent of the last decade. If no serious talent has emerged in the ladies’ field in the last decade, Lakshya’s recent rise is an exception in the dismal men’s singles scenario. A closer look reveals that India has only one serious pair in men’s and women’s doubles, but none in mixed doubles. The current scenario for all government funding for badminton since the days leading up to the 2010 Commonwealth Games does not inspire confidence. Besides, Saina Nehwal and B. Sai Praneith’s fitness concerns leave Indian badminton in a serious quality crunch.

Given this background, what Srikanth, 28, and Lakshya, 20, achieved in Huelva, Spain, was highly significant. With COVID-related restrictions affecting players’ training and competition schedules around the world, it was great to see the Indians come together on the big stage and come back with two medals. Lakshya was indeed a revelation en route to the semi-finals before losing to Srikanth. In fact, he led his senior compatriot in the deciding game, but Srikanth’s experience made the decisive difference. For Srikanth personally, silver was worth its weight in gold. Without a major international title since 2017, the former world No. 1 has long struggled with poor form and fitness. Once Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo, former Olympic champion Taufiq Hidayat’s coach, left India in December 2017 before completing his tenure as coach, Srikanth’s career chart took a hit. Recent confidence-building results and the prospect of Mulho returning to India to take over coaching duties in the New Year should rejuvenate Srikanth. Lakshya must stay hungry after surpassing expectations and making his presence felt on one of the sport’s biggest stages. He needs to pay more attention to his fitness. Prannoy and Praneeth, both 29 and semi-finalists at the 2010 World Junior Championships, still want to fulfill their potential. All in all, the quartet has high hopes for the upcoming season.



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