CWG 2018: No. 1 is great, but country is priority, says Kidambi Srikanth

Apr 13, 2018, 10:06 IST | Sundari Iyer

Kidambi Srikanth, who made history by becoming India's first male shuttler to achieve World No. 1 status yesterday, says it's nation first, rankings later

India's Kidambi Srikanth at Gold Coast, Australia. Pic/AFP
India's Kidambi Srikanth at Gold Coast, Australia. Pic/AFP

Kidambi Srikanth, 25, etched his name in badminton history by becoming the first Indian men's shuttler to be ranked World No. 1 as he replaced Denmark's Viktor Axelsen at the top of the BWF world rankings released yesterday. Srikanth is currently on top with a total of 76,895 points, while Viktor, who has been off-court due to an injury, has slipped down to 75,470 points.

Saina Nehwal, in 2015, had become the first Indian women's player to be ranked World No. 1. Before the ranking system was computerised, India's Prakash Padukone had been ranked No. 1 in 1980.

'Consistency is key'
Rankings aren't all that important however, says Srikanth. Consistency is. "I am absolutely thrilled to be World No. 1, but all I'm thinking about is performing consistently and winning many more tournaments. It's an honour to be the first since Prakash sir to achieve this. My aim is to bring more laurels for India by winning major tournaments like the Olympics, Asian Games, World Championships and Super Series events, among others," Guntur-born Srikanth, who is currently doing national duty at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, told mid-day.

Last year, the Hyderabadi missed out on the No. 1 ranking after sustaining a leg injury at the Nationals in Nagpur. The injury meant forced him to pull out of the China Open in November. So, was the delay difficult to endure? "Not really because I always wanted to perform well. I always told myself that winning tournaments is more important than pushing myself for rankings. I am not thinking too much about rankings," said the Padma Shree awardee.

Pressure is a key factor when it comes to succeeding at the top spot, but having trained under chief national coach Pullela Gopichand at his Hyderabad academy, and with Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo by his side, Srikanth has seemed confident at all times. Srikanth, who won four Super Series titles — Indonesia, Australia, Denmark, France — in 2017, to become the fourth man in the elite list that comprises Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan and Chen Long, credited the work ethic of coach Handoyo, best known for training Taufik Hidayat.

'Handoyo has helped'
"I feel the amount of training that we have been doing since a long time has worked. Also, to train under Mulyo, who has a lot of coaching experience, has definitely worked," added Kidambi Srikanth, who helped the Indian mixed team to clinch gold at the Gold Coast CWG recently. So, will the No. 1 tag alter his personality, in any way? "I think that will be a no. I always try to be the same person. I continuously keep telling myself that l need to keep winning more and more tournaments."

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