India, thanks to sportspersons like Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, Umesh Yadav and now Srikanth Kidambi, has been put on the map of excellent sportsmanship. These are the individuals who have tales from obscurity to fame. Srikanth Kidambi, the 23-year-old, who once ranked World no.3 in men’s single, has more than proved that grit a sports person must require being India’s Prince of Badminton. He is the highest ranking Indian men’s player in the international circuit in the world.
Since 2011, Srikanth has won so many matches and Silver, Bronze, and Gold medals, along with other tournaments, that it would take a lengthy Wikipedia entry to list them all down! To mentions his most recent wins – Gold at the 2015 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold and two Golds at the South Asian Games this year. Along with his medals, this young man has also been awarded with the Arjuna Award.
There are no short cuts in reaching the top. Hard work is the key, and one must put in their best in what they do in a disciplined and dedicated manner.”
Srikanth has always been inclined towards Badminton. As a child he would follow his elder brother, Nanda Gopal who also plays the same sport, to the stadium for practice. But, it was only five years ago that the game of badminton became a real deal for this world ranker.
With smashes and whooshes of the nearly invisible shuttlecock, Srikanth dominates the sport. He is a singles player who initially though played doubles. He was hand-picked out of a talented bunch by his coach, Pullela Gopichand (a former badminton player who won the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001, the second Indian to achieve this feat after Prakash Padukone). Speaking about his coach, Srikanth says, “Gopi Sir saw in me the talent to succeed as a singles player and was instrumental in making me one of the top men’s single players in the world.”
During the weekends I try to catch a movie or so with my friends, or just sleep to recover from the training sessions.”
For Srikanth no other career and profession could ever come to mind. He says, “Badminton is everything to me. I wouldn’t know any other career to pursue as my daily routine revolves around this sport.” A life focussed on badminton doesn’t leave much time to pursue other interests. Despite such heavy practise sessions, what of the all the other times a simple, hardworking, 23-year-old would like to enjoy, to which Srikanth answers, “During the weekends I try to catch a movie or so with my friends, or just sleep to recover from the training sessions.”
His inspiration, his coach Pullela Gopichand, under whom he trains has been the biggest source of advice and guidance that has led Srikanth to become an undefeated sportsperson in India and internationally.
The Olympics and representing India is a double whammy! I’d say it was the most memorable time of my life.”
With so many successes under his belt, it was obvious that this Gold medallist would represent India at the Rio Olympics, held this year. And it was quite a treat for all those who watched him play. Srikanth entered round of 16 of the men’s singles, where he went on to beat the World no.5 Jørgensen to reach the quarterfinals. But, unfortunately was defeated by Lin Dan at that stage.
The big Olympic moments are a wonder for all those who witness them, and are a part of. The World no.9 too experienced moments of amazement. He excitedly shares, “It was a great experience! I got the chance to play in the biggest tournament ever. The Olympics and representing India is a double whammy! I’d say it was the most memorable time of my life.” Since then he has been training relentlessly for other tournaments, and is currently preparing to play in the second season of Premiere Badminton League as well the Macau Open Badminton Championships.
“There are no short cuts in reaching the top. Hard work is the key, and one must put in their best in what they do in a disciplined and dedicated manner,” says Srikanth, who sticks to his word on hard work like rust sticks on an old iron. Hence, this young 23-year-old sports-star has today become a source of inspiration to many younger badminton players. Srikanth Kidambi has reached his K2. It is only a matter of time before he conquers his personal Everest.