India’s champion shuttler Kidambi Srikanth says that his next big target is to win the Senior national title. This itself is a gentle reminder of the likely star presence of the big guns — thanks to the initiative of the BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma — in the 82nd edition commencing at the Divisional Sports Complex indoor stadium here on Wednesday.
For, the likes of Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu along with H.S. Prannoy, P. Kashyap in singles, doubles specialists Ashwini Ponnappa, Sikki Reddy are expected to be in action to the delight of the die-hard badminton lovers.
True to his word, the BAI chief has ensured that the ‘icons’ get a direct entry into the pre-quarterfinals and most of them will be here after the ‘Legends Vision’ programme in Mumbai on November 4.
The Nagpur edition also offers the biggest prize money ever in the Nationals – about Rs. 60 lakh with the men’s and women’s singles winners getting Rs. 2 lakhs each.
The championship begins with the team event tomorrow featuring eight teams – the zonal winners, the Institutional winners and the host team Maharashtra.
For the record, Petroleum Sports Promotion Board is the defending champions and Airports Authority of India the runner-up.
In individual events, Sourabh Varma and Rituparna Das will defend their titles in the men’s and women’s sections respectively.
K. Ch. Punnaiah Choudhary, BAI Secretary (events), who has been associated with the Senior Nationals since 1967 ( 50 years), says that all the icon players have confirmed their participation though there is always a scope for any last-minute changes.
“As things stand, all of them will be here and this is what makes this Nationals really special,” he said.
The other interesting aspect is that World Championship and Rio Olympics silver-medallist, P.V. Sindhu, is likely to represent Andhra Pradesh for the first time in the Nationals, having taken charge as Krishna District Deputy Collector recently. She is expected to join the team tomorrow evening if it wins the first round in the morning.
And, in women’s singles, there is also a possibility of a Saina-Sindhu summit clash!
Maharashtra Badminton Association president Arun Lakhani said the prize money will continue to be on par to match the success of India's star players at the highest level.
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