Holding court: ace shuttler Kidambi Srikanth shares his comeback journey
Although Kidambi Srikanth is not really a social media maven, one glance at his Instagram account shows what a sport he is. His recent update captures his spirit where he posts a photograph of himself lying crestfallen on the court. Yet, he gracefully compliments his opponent and says, “Not really my day. Credit to Viktor (Danish badminton player Viktor Axelsen) for playing well in the crucial points. Lots to learn from today’s match.”
This June, Srikanth stormed the badminton world as he became the first Indian to win the men’s singles title at the Indonesia Super Series Premier and Australian Open. With four international titles attached to his name, the only goal this Olympic quater finalist (2016) has is to win every match that he ever plays.
While he started the year with a world ranking of number 20, in a month’s time, Srikanth shot up to number 8. Despite his early exit from the Japan Open in September, the 24-year-old Indian shuttler agrees that 2017 has been quite a good year for him, considering his comeback after he injured his right ankle last year. “It was tough to stay away from the sport because I had never been through a phase like this before. When I got back to the field, I was scared to push myself and took time to give my 100 per cent,” shares the Guntur-born athlete. Around the same time, Coach Mulyo Handoyo, best known for training Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat to an Olympic gold, joined the national training centre to ease Indian coach Pullela Gopichand’s workload. Srikanth says Mulyo’s experience helped him recover faster than he thought it’d take and get back to his winning days.
The champ clearly doesn’t intend to stop anytime soon. Srikanth clinched his third Super Series title at the Denmark Open this week. He also has major events like the Commonwealth Games and world championships ahead of him in 2018. All that matters now for this Pullela Gopichand protégé is to maintain consistency in all his upcoming matches, which he agrees isn’t as easy as it sounds.