Can Kidambi Srikanth Rediscover Himself After Historic World Badminton Championships Silver Medal?

© AP Photo / Mark SchiefelbeinKidambi Srikanth of India reacts while competing against Pablo Abian of Spain during their men's badminton singles match at the BWF World Championships in Nanjing, China, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018
Kidambi Srikanth of India reacts while competing against Pablo Abian of Spain during their men's badminton singles match at the BWF World Championships in Nanjing, China, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.12.2021
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In a sport dominated by Chinese men for decades, India’s Kidambi Srikanth has earned his spot in the top echelons of badminton with his sheer grit, determination and passion. The 28-year-old player has had a roller coaster ride so far in his career – becoming World No. 1 in 2018 before failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics this year.
Last week, Kidambi Srikanth made history as he became the first Indian male player to clinch a medal at the World Badminton Championships. While Srikanth gave his all, he was still not able to defeat Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in the title clash and had to contend with a silver medal, losing in straight games to his 24-year-old challenger in 43 minutes.
Despite his loss in the final, it was Srikanth's best performance in a couple of years and came as a ray of hope for him, considering he had struggled to accomplish meaningful results in men’s singles since his breakthrough season in 2017.
That year, Srikanth had achieved the rare feat of winning four super series titles in a calendar year, a milestone only achieved by the legendary Lin Dan, former World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and ex-Olympic champion Chen Long in the past.
The following year, the Andhra Pradesh-born badminton star captured the gold medal at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately, however, a knee injury eventually took a toll on him as his long-drawn struggles with form began.
Subsequently, his problems with his health escalated as an ankle issue continued to bother him over the next few years, resulting in his failure to make it to the Indian contingent for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
But everything changed for the better at the World Championships and India’s national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand is of the view that his silver medal in Spain will start his renaissance at the world stage.
"With back to back tournaments, sometimes it becomes difficult for a player to recover from an injury. Srikanth was troubled by his injuries as he rushed himself back from it with the Olympic qualification at stake," Gopichand told Indian media earlier this week.
"But it is good to see him sustain long three-game matches in Spain and he has been also playing continuously right from the Sudirman Cup, so it is a good sign,” he added.
Retired Indian shuttler, Abhinn Shyam Gupta, who represented India at the Athens Olympics in 2004, was buoyed by Srikanth’s performance in the World Championships and predicted that the former top-ranked men’s player will be able to fulfil his dream of winning an Olympic medal in Paris in 2024.
However, Gupta made it clear that Srikanth’s immediate goal should be to claim gold medals in next year’s Commonwealth and Asian Games.
“The silver medal at the World Championships is a turning point in Srikanth’s career. His performance in the competition will definitely give a major boost to his dreams of becoming an Olympic medalist in France,” Gupta told Sputnik on Friday.
“But Srikanth should keep a tab on his fitness because that’s where his problems began. If he stays healthy, there’s no reason why he can’t be No.1 again,” he concluded.
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