The previous decade in Indian badminton was full of tales of extremes. Unprecedented success, consideration and fame made the creamy layer of home-grown expertise family names. Rising prize-money, rewards and publicity made them financially safe. A steep rise of their following gave a few of them celeb standing that would simply be the envy of most of their predecessors.
Although disciplines like capturing, archery, chess, wrestling, boxing and cue-sports introduced in additional medals previously decade, badminton gained extra. As dwell badminton motion was accessible throughout the size and breadth of the nation, even informal followers of sports activities witnessed one triumph or the opposite.
The dwell telecast of each main event helped the nation’s main gamers acquire familiarity and recognition. The visuals of triumphant Indians stayed within the minds of tv viewers and directors alike. The impression on these in authority within the Sports activities Ministry and Sports activities Authority of India mirrored within the sport getting extra funding.
The place all of it started: The 2010 Commonwealth Video games gold medallists, Ashwani Ponappa, Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta and P. Kashyap. If one have been to zero in on the start line of the rise within the recognition of badminton in India within the final decade, these medals may nicely emerge because the set off. – V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM
The rising recognition of badminton offered the proper atmosphere for the arrival of the Premier Badminton League, the richest of its variety on this planet.
For gamers, senior and junior alike, publicity in abroad tournaments adopted with superb regularity. Sadly, a number of undeserving gamers additionally made the many of the generosity of the Authorities funding. However general, extra gamers than ever earlier than bought a style of taking part in at totally different ranges of the worldwide circuit. Following a sequence of no-holds barred publicity journeys, the truth got here to the floor in two seasons — 2018 and 2019.
Apart from the anticipated success within the 2018 Commonwealth Video games plus two of the largest triumphs of Sindhu’s profession — the 2018 BWF World Tour Finals and the 2019 World championship — and B. Sai Praneeth’s World championship bronze, India had little or no to cheer about.
Surprising bounty: B. Sai Praneeth claimed a shock bronze within the 2019 World championship and ultimately overtook Srikanth within the year-ending rankings, for the primary time. – NAGARA GOPAL
Even Saina’s lone success — within the 2019 Indonesian Masters — got here after reigning Olympic gold medallist and three-time World champion Carolina Marin withdrew from the ultimate following a knee harm when the Spaniard led 10-4.
A more in-depth have a look at the last decade brings out some heartening info. Former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, B. Srikanth, P. Kashyap and doubles specialist G. Jwala rose to single-digit world rankings.
Worldwide titles and medals have been gained at varied ranges. Many new teaching academies mushroomed, catering to the younger brigade. Many former gamers took to teaching and badminton appeared to supply higher prospects than earlier than.
If one have been to zero in on the start line of this rise within the recognition of badminton, the 2010 Commonwealth Video games singles gold medal to Saina and the doubles gold to Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa may nicely emerge because the set off. The doubles gold noticed India tie England at 37 gold medals. Saina’s comeback win took the host to the second spot, forward of England, for the primary time.
The truth is, 2010 noticed Saina win three BWF Superseries titles — essentially the most in a yr for her — to go together with her India Open Grand Prix crown. Saina actually caught the creativeness of the nation. The 2012 Olympic bronze medal made her a family identify.
Not many keep in mind that, when it comes to efficiency, Saina’s career-best displaying got here within the 2012 Indonesian Open the place she actually established her credentials as an Olympic medal-contender. Seeded fifth, Saina overcame the challenges of Chinese language third seed Wang Shixian, a former World No. 1 and 2010 Asian Video games gold medallist within the quarterfinals.
Within the closing, Saina defeated the eventual Olympic gold medallist China’s fourth seed Li Xuerui, who shocked World No. 1 and compatriot Wang Yihan, the day before today.
After a fruitful 2012, the next yr Saina went with no main title earlier than she added a pair extra in 2014 and reached the World No. 1 rating in 2015. The identical yr, she additionally grew to become reached the World championship closing.
Nevertheless, Saina carried an harm to the 2016 Rio Video games and thereafter, her profession graph has not been the identical.
Saina’s additional triumphs got here within the 2016 Australian Open, 2017 Malaysian Open Grand Prix and the 2019 Indonesian Masters. Sadly, her 2017 World championship bronze was misplaced within the background of the din following Sindhu’s silver.
In these years, Saina collected a few private causes to be blissful. On the courtroom, she gained the Nationals twice and the 2018 Commonwealth Video games gold — all on the expense of arch-rival Sindhu. Off the courtroom, she married outdated mate P. Kashyap.
Twice, she determined to half methods together with her coach and mentor P. Gopi Chand earlier than returning to him. In 2011, within the aftermath of the 2010 Asian Video games debacle, the spat between the Saina and Gopi noticed her efficiency dip to an alarming low. However her choice to return to Gopi helped her end the yr because the finalist of the BWF Tour Finals.
Once more, in 2014, Saina determined to go away Gopi and practice with Vimal Kumar in Bangalore. She made one other U-turn in 2017 to rejoin Gopi in Hyderabad.
In all, 21 BWF Tour titles to go along with medals from the Olympics, World championships, Asian Video games, Asian championship and Commonwealth Video games actually established Saina because the path-breaker for ladies’s badminton within the nation.
All this whereas Sindhu steadily made her presence felt. Although she has not gained as many BWF Tour titles as Saina or change into World No. 1, her performances within the marquee occasions have been much more noticeable.
The 2016 Olympic silver medal, 5 World championship medals, together with the historic title in 2019 and silver medals within the earlier two editions to go along with the bronze medals in 2013 and 2014, aside from the 2019 World Tour Finals title, make her essentially the most profitable Indian singles participant.
Sindhu walked the trail charted by Saina and has already gone past. She has not matched Saina’s consistency, or improved her private report towards the latter, however when it comes to recognition and attracting endorsements, Sindhu has moved far forward.
Together with her reported earnings of $8.5 million in 2018 and $5.5 million in 2019, Sindhu made it to the Forbes listing of highest paid feminine athletes!
Collectively, Sindhu and Saina performed their components, with the doubles mixture of G. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa, to carry bronze medals from the Uber Cup in 2014 and 2016.
Jwala, the nation’s most liked doubles participant, contributed to the rise of Indian badminton in a means far totally different from Saina and Sindhu. Her persona, on-court presence, flamboyance and the best way she carried herself within the badminton area, introduced in additional spectators. Whether or not it was her blended doubles profession with V. Diju or the extra productive affiliation with Ashwini, Jwala couldn’t be ignored. Clearly essentially the most photographed face among the many Indian shuttlers, after Saina and Sindhu, Jwala’s performances is not going to be surpassed in a rush.
With the media focus totally on singles performances, Jwala and Diju didn’t get as a lot consideration as they deserved once they grew to become the primary Indian pair to win a Grand Prix Gold title within the 2009 Chinese language Taipei Open.
In addition they made historical past by changing into the primary Indian blended doubles pair to achieve the World championship quarterfinals in 2009 and repeated the feat in 2010, too.
Extra considerably, Jwala and Diju shocked the badminton world by reaching the ultimate of the 2009 BWF Tremendous Sequence Masters Finals. This was the primary Indian entry within the closing of this prestigious, cash-rich year-ending occasion.
The pair was profitable in Grand Prix occasions however after the 2012 Olympics, the place she certified for each paired occasions, Jwala took a sabbatical and returned to proceed taking part in girls’s doubles.
The high-point of the Jwala-Ashwini pair was the bronze medal from the 2011 World championship in London. The duo reached a career-high world rating of 10 and was instrumental in India claiming two Uber Cup bronze medals.
Even because the absence of a powerful third girls’s singles participant and males’s doubles pair continued to harm India within the Sudirman Cup or the Thomas and Uber Cup competitions, Jwala’s presence clearly stored the hopes alive within the paired occasions.
In the meantime, the nation’s male gamers lastly made their presence felt among the many elite. Kashyap confirmed the best way and gained the 2014 Commonwealth Video games gold, however couldn’t translate his performances into title-winning showings on the BWF Superseries or World Tour ranges.
The 2012 Olympic Video games quarterfinalist climbed to the sixth spot in World rankings till the trouble was bettered by Ok. Srikanth. Winner of six BWF superseries titles, together with 4 in 2017, and three Grand Prix crowns, Srikanth went on to achieve the World No. 1 spot.
A purple patch: Ok. Srikanth, winner of six BWF superseries titles (together with 4 in 2017) and three Grand Prix crowns, went on to achieve the World No. 1 spot. – PTI
B. Sai Praneeth, too, added to the curiosity in 2017, by successful a Superseries and a Grand Prix title. The truth is, he claimed a shock bronze from the 2019 World championship and ultimately overtook Srikanth within the year-ending rankings, for the primary time.
Although Sameer Verma and H. S. Prannoy additionally offered some joyous moments and pulled off some shock outcomes, Indian badminton confirmed indicators of stagnation in 2019.
The silver lining was offered by younger Lakshya Sen who climbed to the 33rd rung in world rating and have become eligible to participate in nearly each elite BWF occasion in 2020. The doubles duo of Satwik Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty offered some very encouraging outcomes and promised to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
One for the morrow: Indian badminton confirmed indicators of stagnation in 2019. However, the silver lining was offered by younger Lakshya Sen, who climbed to the 33rd rung in world rating and have become eligible to participate in nearly each elite BWF occasion in 2020. – VIVEK BENDRE
A more in-depth look reveals that the current lot within the seniors excelled as juniors at first of the last decade. That, in impact, proves that the nation’s crop of juniors, since 2011, has not grown into world beaters.
Gopi, the person who turned the fortunes of Indian badminton round by shaping the careers of Saina, Sindhu, Kashyap, Srikanth and Sai Praneeth, amongst others, was rightly bestowed a number of sports activities and Padma awards.
He handled the gamers in a disciplined means in his Academy in Hyderabad. The Authorities businesses supported him to the hilt. The Badminton Affiliation of India presidents, by turns, gave him a free hand and all of it regarded good so long as the outcomes have been encouraging.
However controversies, resulting in litigation, weren’t removed from Gopi. Jwala was the primary to lift her voice towards the pinnacle coach. He was additionally taken to courtroom by gamers like Maharashtra’s Prajakta Sawant, Telangana’s Vaishnavi Reddy and later by Kerala’s doubles specialist Aparna Balan, questioning the best way they have been handled.
Some notable international coaches selected to go away the nation earlier than their contracts have been over and in addition identified how troublesome it was to work in Gopi’s Academy with some “insecure” Indian coaches.
Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo, credited by gamers like Sindhu, Srikanth and Praneeth for his or her performances, left earlier than finishing his time period in December 2017. He later grew to become Singapore’s Nationwide coach.
In 2019, Korean coach Kim Ji Hyun, who performed an element making Sindhu the World champion, left quickly after the historic triumph. Initially, it was reported that she was away to take care of her ailing husband. However quickly she took up a training task in Chinese language Taipei and revealed in an interview that her stint in India ended on an disagreeable notice.
In December, one other Indonesian coach, doubles specialist Flandy Limpele spoke in regards to the “unhealthy perspective” of some Indian gamers within the elite camp and expressed his fear about “lack of staff work” and stated “they solely care about particular person self.”
Trying forward, 2020 may nicely see the top of a number of careers because the focus of the SAI and the BAI, in session with Gopi, is clearly on grooming the youthful lot. This additionally means, gamers like Srikanth, Sai Praneeth, Prannoy and Kashyap may discover it a bit harder, except they make amends for his or her general showings previously two seasons.
The excellent news is that Gopi, the coach, is again on the badminton courtroom within the early hours of the day, identical to he did for the higher a part of the last decade with Saina, Sindhu and others.
As issues stand, it’s troublesome to be too optimistic about India’s prospects in 2020. Within the New 12 months, with the Olympic qualification on the road, there is no such thing as a dearth of motivation for the gamers. However, additionally it is time for the common Indian badminton follower to be extra practical as an alternative of ending up as an exasperated sufferer of his or her expectations.