The might of China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, China and Denmark held sway over world badminton for many years. India was seemingly doing all the ‘catching up’ it could. We saw the likes of Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand proving that they were second to none over the past few decades, not to speak of the stellar run of Saina Nehwal. It was as if only individual brilliance catapulted India into limelight in international tournaments.
There was a time in Indian badminton when the men’s section had a top-ranked shuttler, the women’s didn’t, and when the women’s section saw the indomitable Saina Nehwal rise through the ranks, the men shuttlers were sedately going the process of taking part in tournaments without making any significant statement.
A force together
K Srikanth capped off a memorable 2014 outsmarting Parpupalli Kashyap to become the country’ s top ranked singles players – scaling astounding heights toppling five time world champion Lin Dan to win the China Open, besides a string of power-packed performances to break into the top-5 – the only third Indian shuttler to do so after Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand.
Massive rise over the past yearEven as K Srikanth was calling the shots on the international stage, Indian had several other shuttlers who were making life difficult for their opponents. For most part of last twelve months, India had as many six to seven shuttlers in the top-50. The likes of Parupalli Kashyap, HS Pranoy, Anand Pawar, Ajay Jayaram, RMV Gurusaidutt and Sourabh Varma came up with decent showings – summing up how the Indian badminton contingent was collectively standing firm against all the challenges thrown at them.
Saina Nehwal did endure a dip in form over a period of time, but picked up the pieces to win the Australian Open Super Series before going on to clinch the Chinese Open Super Series Premier. She kicked off her 2015 campaign winning the Indian Open Grand Prix. She was not the only women ploughing a lone furrow – PV Sindhu kept herself in the news retaining the Macau Open.
A large chunk of Indian shuttlers’ success must go to national coach and former stalwart Pullela Gopichand, who has been diligently training his wards at the Hyderabad-based Gopichand Badminton Academy.
There is little doubt that Indian badminton is on a high. With the All England Championship and the World Championship not far away, a podium finish at these events will be a further reiteration of the good health of Indian badminton.