Superstar shuttler Kidambi Srikanth decodes the road to silver

Kidambi Srikanth, who won a historic men’s singles silver medal in the World Championship in Spain last Sunday believed in himself through tough times and said that the best is yet to come.

Kidambi Srikanth, silver medalist in BWF World Championships 2021 with his Chief National Coach Pullela Gopichand.   -  Nagara Gopal

“I kept believing in myself even through the tough times. And I can say the best is yet to come. I can do much better,” said shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, who won a historic men’s singles silver medal in the World Championship in Spain on Sunday.

“I will keep my head down, work even harder and look forward to winning titles,” Srikanth said in his first media interaction after landing in India on Tuesday.

“I am happy and feeling great with my performance in the World Championship. And, this I consider is the best phase of my career, better than the dream run I had in 2017 when I had won four Super Series titles (which eventually also saw him be the World No.1)," the champion shuttler said.

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“After all the disappointments, including missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this silver medal is special. The best part being I was overall aggressive right through. I entered the Worlds after semifinal performances in the Indonesian Open and the German Opens. And, I was the highest-ranked Indian (at No. 14) in the world,” Srikanth explained to make a point.

“The injury phase is over, but the focus right now will be to keep improving as the year ahead has a packed schedule with the India Open in January, then the All England, the World Championship and the Asian Games. There is no time even to celebrate this silver,” he said with a smile.

“I will speak to Gopi anna (chief national coach P. Gopichand) and work out a schedule accordingly to keep winning major events,” he added.

“Not many are aware how difficult it was for me in the last few years, sometimes for reasons beyond my control. When I was feeling better and confident, the pandemic disrupted the tournament schedule worldwide. Seven Olympic qualifying tournaments were cancelled, which dented my chances to make it to Tokyo Games,” he said.

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On the final, Srikanth recalled it was not an easy loss. “I had my chances the scoreline read 18, but Loh Kean Yew played better in the final moments,” he said.

“I don’t think the tough semifinal against Lakshya Sen had a bearing on the final. In big events, these are common. I repeat it all boils down to how well you play in the one hour on the given day irrespective of all the training preceding the match day,” Srikanth explained.

“I expected the kind of game Lakshya played against me. He looked really good and along with Priyanshu, he is among the future bets for Indian men’s badminton,” he said.

Srikanth looked perplexed when a reporter asked if he had plans to leave Gopi Academy like a few big names had done in the past. “Name the players who have done that. Anyhow, I am here (at Gopi Academy) and will continue to keep winning more titles,” he concluded.

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