Rewind 2014: A smashing year for Indian badminton
There is no denying that 2014 has been the best imaginable in terms of sheer performance from India’s fantastic shuttlers.
Just take a look at these results: Our women grabbed bronze medals in the team championships at the Uber Cup and the Incheon Asiad team event. At the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Parupalli Kashyap stunned everyone by winning gold in singles while RMV Gurusaidutt pitched in with a performance worthy of a bronze.
The Asian Championships saw PV Sindhu shuttle her way to bronze just like the Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa duo. Sindhu went one better when she got a bronze at the World Championships and also retained her Macau GP Gold title.
India's K Srikanth. Pic/Getty Images.
There were many other titles as well coming from HS Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram while veteran Arvind Bhat won at the German Open. At smaller events, Indians won so many titles that it is futile to jot them down here.
Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal, who ended her partnership with national chief coach P Gopichand after winning the Australian Open, stunned the world by winning the China Open by defeating three local players en route to the title and also entering the semi-finals of the year-ending Super Series finals at Dubai. Saina of course, started the year with a bang, defeating PV Sindhu in final of the Indian GP Gold.
Rise of K Srikanth
But what made 2014 really memorable was without a doubt the hugely memorable impact of Kidambi Srikanth. Just four months after being in ICU with brain fever which made him miss the CWG, Srikanth wrote history when he defeated arguably the best shuttler ever, Lin Dan, in two games in the final of the China Open.
However, there are still some areas where the BAI and national coach have to bring about change to get better results. Doubles — that is all the three paired events — have hardly shown any progress. We are still overtly dependent on the fast ageing Jwala Gutta to get us some results.
At the Uber Cup, Saina/Sindhu came on the court for the second doubles. This shows that we do not have a strong bench strength in any of the paired events. And though there seems to be adequate strength as far as mens singles is concerned, what after Saina and Sindhu?
There are no stars coming up in ladies singles. However, Gopichand surely must be aware of this and will address the bench strength situation soon. Badminton Association of India (BAI) must get its thinking heads together and adopt some drastic measures for doubles as the Sudirman Cup — the BWF mixed team championships — will be upon us soon.
To be realistically counted as a badminton power globally, we must have a stake in all the five events.