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BADMINTON, THE REVOLUTION IN SPORTS

By: Swetha Reddy
Date: 05 May, 2018
Image Courtesy: Badminton Photo

The massive changes in the Indian badminton since past two years is the revolution. The rise of the players in singles and doubles, who have been gaining the spotlight on the international platform is commendable.

If it is PV Sindhu’s silver in 2016 Olympics, it is Kidambi Srikanth’s four Super Series titles in 2017. Meanwhile, the doubles players made sure that slowly they would fall into place, and today they did, they proved.

Not to forget, our para badminton spearheads have been adding the missing charisma in the sport by winning as many titles as possible in all the categories.

Then

In the 90s and 00s, any non-cricketer had a common complaint that India is a one-sport nation with cricket to which all fans and sponsors are hooked. This was a refrain from India’s athletes - from footballers to tennis players, from hockey stars to assorted Olympians.

There have been those who have managed to hold their own against the cricketing behemoth. In some scenes, the moments were very short-lived. Sania Mirza, for example, made it to the top 30 in the world, but a series of injuries meant her singles career hit a massive speed bump while it was gaining momentum.

There have been those who achieved greatness but in sports that weren’t exactly spectator-friendly. Viswanathan Anand ruled the world of chess, Abhinav Bindra did the same in shooting, and while both became household names, neither was likely to have the entire nation glued to their television sets.

Previously in badminton, it was Prakash Padukone in 1980s who brought glory to the nation and with his prestigious All England title win, the sport has received the recognition in the country. Later, it was his student Pullela Gopichand, who carried the pride in 1990s.  

Now

In the late 00s, after the successful installation of badminton academies and support from government, players started participating in the international events.

In the major events, from the situation of ‘participation is enough’ to ‘go for gold’, the Indian badminton has evolved immensely in terms of not just the powerhouse but also world class facilities and television viewerships.

During the rise of the sport, doubles aces Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa grabbed the limelight in badminton, while the brawny tennis had been the breaking news, by winning Super Series and CWG in Women’s Doubles. In fact, it’s doubles with whom the emanation of badminton happened in the modern times, and then it is Saina Nehwal of Women’s Singles who has been creating storm in the sport, the recent one being at the 2018 CWG, where she won two golds. Here comes Sindhu with silver at the Rio Olympics followed by winning Super Series titles, which took her to the world no 2 spot in 2017.

Kidambi Srikanth gave a jolting aura in 2017 by winning four super series titles and would have created history by reaching the top spot in the world rankings, had he not succumbed to injury prior to the year ending tournaments.

Badminton had suddenly held to it. The powerhouse kept on increasing its contingents on the international platform with HS Prannoy, B Sai Praneeth, Sameer Verma, and Ajay Jayaram in Men’s Singles.

Meanwhile, doubles gave great comeback with Ashwini Ponnappa/N Sikki Reddy, Pranaav Jerry Chopra/N Sikki Reddy, Manu Attri/B Sumeeth Reddy, and the youngster duo Satwiksairaj Rankireddy/Chirag Shetty, by winning great feats.

Indian badminton had reached the actual milestone with para badminton, who has been exceptional in the shadows by winning great feats and standing on the top spots of rankings.

It would be no surprise if we see all-Indian finals in the upcoming major badminton tournaments.



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