Srikanth worried but hopeful of Tokyo Olympics qualification

Battling injury and poor form, Srikanth has slipped to 26th in the BWF Race to Tokyo rankings, with B. Sai Praneeth (11), Sourabh Verma (21) and P. Kashyap (22) ahead of him.

Kidambi Srikanth has endured a rough start to 2020, crashing out in the first round in the Malaysia, Indonesia and the Thailand Masters.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

With three months left for the end of the qualification period for the Tokyo Olympics, K. Srikanth is in a race against time.

Battling injury and poor form, the former World No.1 has slipped to 26th in the BWF Race to Tokyo rankings, with B. Sai Praneeth (11), Sourabh Verma (21) and P. Kashyap (22) all positioned ahead of him. As per the BWF’s qualification system, a country may have a maximum of two athletes in each event, provided both are ranked in the top 16 (as of April 28, 2020).

“If I can really get back to the form I was in, then those rankings won’t really matter. There are four Super Series tournaments, the Badminton Asia team championships and individual championships before the qualification period ends. I’m looking at playing them really well. The first thing I’m thinking about is qualifying for the Olympics,” he said on Sunday.

The prospect of not qualifying for the Olympics worried him, admitted the 26-year-old, who was in the city to inaugurate a 4500-square-foot Li Ning ‘superstore’

 

“I really got injured at the wrong time, when the Olympic qualification period had just started. The injury didn’t let me play the way I wanted to. I was struggling to move on court."

— Kidambi Srikanth

 

 

“It’s something that comes once in four years. From 2016, I’ve been the highest-ranked player and suddenly because of the injury I’ve dropped. There will be a little bit of worry for sure. If it was 2018 or 2019 I wouldn’t have worried so much. Because I would have had that 12-month period to come back. Now I have only three months to come back” he said.

Srikanth has endured a rough start to 2020, crashing out in the first round in the Malaysia, Indonesia and the Thailand Masters. The knee injury he suffered last May has proven to be a massive setback.

“I really got injured at the wrong time, when the Olympic qualification period had just started. The injury didn’t let me play the way I wanted to. I was struggling to move on court,” he said.

The injury’s impact has been as much mental as it has been physical. “After a point, if you’re not really able to play for five-six months, that really stays in your mind,” Srikanth said.

“Now, every time I want to push myself, in the back of my head I’m scared somewhere if the injury will come back again. But in the last two months, I have been able to do well. I have been doing full sessions. The next three months...I will take it as it comes.”

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