PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi, Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma, and many more in the last decade and a half have put India on top of the international badminton circuit.
Coincidentally all of them started their career from former All England Champion Pullela Gopichand. India’s banter with the world badminton started with Saina Nehwal in 2006 when the 16-year-old Saina won the Asian Satellite Badminton tournament and created history.
From 2007-08 new Indian athletes broke into the badminton mainframe and sparkled like never before.
When Prakash Padukone won the All England Championship in 1980, a tournament which is considered the most prestigious tournament in the event calendar and was also tagged as the unofficial world championship, brought about a small revolution for badminton in India. After 21 years Pullela Gopichand won the All England Championships in 2001 and extended badminton’s craze in the country.
2010-2020, Indian badminton witnessed unprecedented success, extreme tales, attention, and exposure. Soon after Saina, PV Sindhu, Srikanth Kidambi & Sai Praneeth caught the limelight and became overnight stars of Indian badminton. These players together have achieved almost everything the sport has to offer. From world no.1 to Olympic medals, from Commonwealth gold to BWF world championships, everything that was elusive for badminton India before.
Indian badminton saw a meteoric rise and in the past few years with the aging players, the golden generation of Indian badminton is looking feeble.
Talking to Arvind Bhat on the current circumstances of Indian badminton. Arvind is a former Indian international player, mentor, and head coach of Bengaluru Raptors (most successful PBL franchise) said, “the current Indian badminton performance is literally running because of Sindhu. We see no one in the near future who is a top 5 material in singles. But to get there we need many of the premium academies(across India) to come together and work hand in hand.”
“Also players need to be sensible and start making the required sacrifices. They need to put their heads down and work hard. And then definitely we can see the rise of Indian badminton”, he concluded.
In the previous decades, anyone with a good skill set and strong technical background could have fancied becoming the best in the world. Today the game is at a different level, a player who is not so strong technically but strong physically can be a dominant force on the court. The recently concluded Denmark Open is proof of that. Both An Seyoung and Kento Momota lost the finals due to fitness-related issues. An Seyoung retired in the third game and Momota was struggling to deal effectively against Viktor Axelsen’s rallies.
With three entries at the Tokyo Olympics and hardly 2/3 major championships in the last few years and no breakthrough from the Indian youngsters, the fate of Badminton India is like a kite dancing in the storm.