Exclusive: I always dreamt of winning a world championship medal, says Kidambi Srikanth

Kidambi Srikanth celebrates his BWF World Championships silver medal with young badminton players at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. (PTI)
Kidambi Srikanth celebrates his BWF World Championships silver medal with young badminton players at Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. (PTI)

The former world number one has just returned to a rousing reception in India



by

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Wed 22 Dec 2021, 8:37 PM

Despite reaching the pinnacle of world rankings in 2018, it seemed Kidambi Srikanth was destined to live in the shadow of his illustrious compatriots PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal.

But that has changed now as Srikanth is celebrating the greatest moment of his life with a contented smile.

The former world number one has just returned to a rousing reception in India, having become the first man from his country to reach the World Badminton Championships final in Spain.

The 28-year-old Srikanth may have failed to overcome the challenge of Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew in Sunday’s final, but he is happy to end the year on a high.

“I’m just very happy to win the silver medal. It’s a special feeling, you know, I always dreamt of winning a world championship medal. And finally, here I am with a silver medal,” the unassuming Srikanth told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

His glorious run in Spain has sparked an outpouring of congratulatory messages from the likes of Narendra Modi, Sachin Tendulkar, Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza and PV Sindhu.

But things were not as rosy a few months ago when Srikanth missed the Tokyo Olympics after the Covid-19 forced the cancellation of qualifying events.

“Obviously I was disappointed because I always wanted to be there in Tokyo for the Olympics. And I always wanted to win a medal there,” Srikanth admitted.

“But yeah, the Covid situation is something that is not in our hands. A lot of things have changed post-Covid. But, at the same time, I always knew that this Olympic was not the end of the world for me. There will be many more tournaments and I always knew that there would be a World Championship this year. And I always wanted to do well at the World Championship. So I’m just happy that everything that I’ve planned really worked out.”

And the nightmarish knee injuries that threatened to disrupt his career are not haunting him anymore.

“I am completely fine now, I am physically very confident,” he smiled.

“At the moment I’m very confident with my physical fitness and I am able to move well on the court and I am able to do everything that I want to do on the court.”

In the World Championships semifinal, Srikanth was not able to dictate terms to Lakshya Sen, the rising Indian star who pushed him to the limit in an engrossing three-game battle.

“I have been following his performance the last few months and I knew that it was going to be a very good match. I knew that I have to play my absolute best game. And I’m very happy that I was able to win that match,” he said.

“But I’m sure that we will see some very good performances from him in the future. He is very talented, very passionate and he works hard. So we can definitely see some more good performances from him in future.”

Srikanth, the winner of four Super Series titles in 2017, then revealed his ambitions for next year.

“There is the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and another World Championships next year. So it’s going to be a very big year,” he said.

“At the moment I’m very happy with the way I have been playing in the last few weeks. So I will definitely try and work and push myself much harder and try and improve from here and become a better version of myself for the next tournaments.”


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