Other Sports

Badminton: Upbeat India on a medal hunt

K. Srikanth

K. Srikanth  

This is our strongest team ever at the Worlds, says Chief National coach Gopi Chand

K. Srikanth, the first Indian to win back-to-back Super Series titles and the country’s top-ranked male player, says the singles competition in both the men and women’s sections at the upcoming BWF World Championships in Glasgow is open.

“I think everyone has a chance as anyone can beat anyone on a given day,” says Srikanth, who reached the round-of-16 in his two previous appearances at the Worlds. “There are no clear favourites.

“I don’t think [my] winning two Super Series titles matters now. The conditions and the competition will be different. There has been a pretty long gap and it boils down to how well you play on the day,” says the 24-year-old shuttler.

Asked about his preparations, Srikanth says, “Honestly, there is nothing specific for this championship. I am playing well and believe this is the best bet to win a World championship medal. It is all about believing. And it is imperative to get the feel of the mega event in the first round itself. That’s why I always feel the first two rounds are very tough and most crucial to the campaign.”

“I am ready for the challenge; the draw suggests quite [I] will be up against players who are capable of causing upsets. I am not worried about who I am going to meet. I just prefer to take it round by round.”

Chief National coach P. Gopi Chand is of the opinion that India has a shot at a medal in most events. “This is the strongest Indian team for any World Championship, and the best part is each has done exceptionally well in the Majors and takes lots of confidence into this edition,” he says.

“I must say Indonesian coach Mulyo [Handoyo] has been of great help, given the kind of experience he brings, having trained someone like Taufik Hidayat. These players are good and capable of handling the pressure of expectations,” Gopi says.

Sai Praneeth and Sameer Verma, who will play their maiden Worlds, are raring to go.

“We are lot fitter and hungrier,” says Praneeth, who has the rare distinction of beating former All England champions Muhammad Hashim, Lee Chong Wei and Hidayat. “Initially, we were not sure what coach Mulyo had in mind. But once he got his way programming the schedule, we started enjoying it and the recent results are proof of that.”

Sameer, for his part, says he will not be overawed by the atmosphere of the event.

“If everything goes well and I reach the pre-quarterfinal, I am expected to run into Lin Dan. But you never know – there can be upsets and I tell you honestly I am targeting gold,” says an optimistic Sameer who thinks his low-court game and solid defence will hold him in good stead.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 2:28:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/upbeat-india-on-a-medal-hunt/article19520026.ece

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