Siril Verma clinched the No 1 spot in the junior men's singles category in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings released yesterday.
Hyderabad lad Verma, the current World Junior Championships runner-up, took the top spot while compatriot Chirag Sen was placed third, after Toma Junior Popov of France. National coach Pullela Gopichand isn't surprised by the 16-year-old's stupendous rise, 11 places up, in the latest rankings.
"Siril is a natural talent and has his own style. He's been training at my academy since the age of eight. The results are showing now. What has worked for him is the kind of atmosphere he's been getting from a young age.
He gets to play with the top players regularly. Though it will be too early to say that he is the next best thing in Indian badminton, he definitely has huge potential to make it big," Gopichand told mid-day from Hyderabad yesterday.
Siril Verma. Pic/AFP
It's not just the coach, who is impressed by the youngster's achievements. Olympic Gold Quest COO Viren Rasquinha is equally in awe of the teenager.
"The boy just turned 16 on December 25. He's exceptional. What stands out is his dedication and commitment. We first heard about him four years back, Gopichand recommended him. We decided to back him and our decision is slowly paying off," said Rasquinha, whose non-profit body OGQ supports the teen shuttler professionally.
The Andhra Pradesh-born shuttler, who is a part of the Premier Badminton League's (PBL) Hyderabad Hunters team, has even garnered praises from fellow academy mates. World No 47 RMV Gurusaidutt is proud that Siril is the top junior in the world.
"He is a gifted player as he has the natural ability to play strokes. From an early age, he has been playing against top shuttlers like P Kashyap, B Sai Praneeth, myself & others.
"In fact, during training sessions, he often surprises us with certain shots that we least expect him to play. I am delighted that his hard work has paid off," said Gurusaidutt.