Saina, Srikanth’s Tokyo hopes dwindle with India Open postponement

On Monday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) introduced the postponement of subsequent month’s India Open Tremendous 500 in New Delhi, following the deteriorating virus state of affairs within the capital, which went right into a six-day lockdown the identical night time. It was to be one among the many closing three Olympic qualification tournaments. This flip of occasions has additional sophisticated the qualification path for former World No .1 Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal, the London Olympics bronze medallist. The 2 at the moment are left gazing a steep climb of rating factors from simply two competitions — Malaysia Open Tremendous 750 and Singapore Open Tremendous 500 — over the subsequent two months.

Parupalli Kashyap, who’s taken it upon himself to supply courtside teaching and attempt to nudge Saina, his spouse, to her fourth straight Olympic Video games look, calls the state of affairs ‘unfair and upsetting’. “When three tournaments have been left we have been calculating that maybe a few quarterfinals ought to give her (Saina) a great probability. Now one’s gone and we aren’t positive if the remaining two will occur in any respect. It simply appears unfair at this level for the Olympics to stay to schedule when qualification occasions aren’t happening. You may’t simply brush apart these athletes and say they do not matter.

“The world goes by means of a lot at this level. Throughout coaching (on Monday), our power and conditioning coach heard of his uncle passing away (in Gujarat on account of Covid-19) after being unable to discover a ventilator mattress. You find yourself asking your self, ‘how do tournaments or anything matter proper now?’ however within the subsequent breath you are additionally pushing your self to remain motivated. It is a wrestle, actually.”

Srikanth says he did some tentative qualification math on Monday morning. The India Open, he’d assured himself, would deliver him the very best results of the 12 months to this point. In 2019, he made the ultimate, the place he misplaced to Viktor Axelsen. The match was cancelled final 12 months as a result of pandemic. “Frankly,” he says, referring to his qualification possibilities, “I do not know what’s in retailer anymore. Ideally, the Olympics ought to have been initially scheduled for the tip of this 12 months, so there’s sufficient time for qualification occasions. Personally, I feel no matter is taking part in out now could be just a little unfair. I do not suppose the world is able to host tournaments in the meanwhile.

“It is nonetheless not over for me, although. If I can handle a semifinal end in Malaysia and a quarterfinal in Singapore, that’ll be good for my qualification possibilities. After all, that is assuming these competitions will happen in any respect.”

Of the six tournaments he is performed this 12 months, 28-year-old Srikanth has made one quarterfinal (New Orleans Tremendous 100) and one semifinal (Swiss Open Tremendous 300) to this point. In 2017, he received 4 Superseries titles, essentially the most by any Indian in a calendar 12 months. He’s presently in 20th place with 42,989 factors within the Race to Tokyo record. Solely the highest 16 will undergo to the Olympics. Every nation is allowed a most of two singles gamers inside the highest 16 bracket. There are 4 gamers forward of him belonging to Denmark, Japan, Indonesia and China, who have already got two gamers every nicely inside qualification rivalry, marking out Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu (in 18th place with 46,180) because the one he must leapfrog.

Saina, in the meantime, is presently positioned 22nd within the Race to Tokyo and, at 30, type and health are her major foes. Between No. 17 and No. 22, there’s nonetheless yet one more Japanese — Aya Ohori in 19th place — who’s the fourth participant from her nation within the high 20, which mechanically strikes her out of rivalry. On 43,037 factors presently, the Indian’s major adversaries are 17th-ranked Beiwan Zhang (49,010) of USA, Dane Mia Blichfeldt within the 18th spot (47,891), and Indonesian Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (45,200) at No 20. Nitchaon Jindapol (43,320) of Thailand, which has three gamers within the high 16, is at No. 21.

Within the melee of rescheduled occasions, the skewed benefit for gamers/areas is tough to miss. Whereas the Badminton Asia Championships (April 27-Might 2) has been postpone till put up the Olympics after China withdrew as host and BWF struggled to discover a substitute, the European Championships subsequent week in Kyiv will persist with schedule. Each the continental occasions falling inside the Olympic qualifying window carry essential rating factors however one has already fallen by the wayside whereas gamers scrambling for factors within the closing few tournaments get a leg-up within the different.

“The world goes by means of a lot at this level. You find yourself asking your self, ‘how do tournaments or anything matter proper now?’ however within the subsequent breath you are additionally pushing your self to remain motivated. It is a wrestle.”

Parupalli Kashyap

In a latest report, the British Medical Journal pleaded that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer season be reconsidered — rapping Japan’s dealing with of the pandemic and urging scientific and ethical imperatives to be given priority over financial and home political ends. It additionally touched upon the disparity in qualification benefit.

“Preliminary qualifying competitions for Tokyo 2020 have already been suspended or postponed due to Covid-19, and it’s now unclear whether or not fairness amongst athletes might be ensured,” it stated.

“If the German Open, Asia Championships and India Open had taken place, along with the Malaysia Open and Singapore forward, plenty of stress would have been off me by now,” says Srikanth. He’s preventing pangs of wistfulness. “It is simply 4 spots that I must climb however clearly it is tough if each different week tournaments are cancelled. That is to not say that beneath the circumstances we should always simply go forward and have competitions. Badminton is an indoor sport and it isn’t simple to have a bubble like in cricket. If I miss this Video games, it will be an enormous miss. I will clearly have regrets. However I will probably be round within the sport until the 2024 Video games. All I can do proper now I prepare. There’s actually little else in my management.”

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