Srikanth: 'I never play for rankings'

“It is not just about my success in the Super Series. The fact that Indians are winning Super Series titles in men’s section is a tribute to the system of coaching that is in place here at the Gopi Academy,” the Indian badminton star said.

Kidambi Srikanth with his parents on his return to Hyderabad.   -  PTI

Champion shuttler K. Srikanth, fresh from his two Super Series titles in Indonesia and Australia, says that he never plays for rankings and that they come as part of the process if one starts winning the major events consistently.

On his return to the City, Srikanth said that it had been a fantastic journey in the circuit in the last two weeks. “I always take every tournament match-by-match for the challenges are bound to be different for different reasons. The intent is always to win and now the focus shifts to the World Championship this August,” he said.

Gopichand’s role

“I must say that I am here in front you all just because of Gopi Sir. If he had not taken up coaching after his playing days, I don’t think many of us would be achieving these results. He had a vision in starting the Gopi Academy, realised the huge potential India had in producing champion shuttlers and knows what exactly the players look for to succeed at the highest level,” Srikanth said about chief National coach P. Gopichand.

READ: Kidambi Srikanth: ‘Best phase in my career’

“It is not just about my success in the Super Series. The fact that Indians are winning Super Series titles in men’s section is a tribute to the system of coaching that is in place here at the Gopi Academy. And, it is the result of years of hard work, commitment and the intense desire to keep improving. I must also thank Mulyo (Indonesian singles coach hired by SAI) and all the others at the Academy for being there every time we all looked up to them,” Srikanth said.

“Beating the big guns in consecutive events and especially reigning Olympic and World champion Chen Long in the Australian Open will be remembered by me for long,” he said.

READ: Srikanth downs Long to win Australian Open Super Series

“We Indians do discuss how to beat a top player like Lee Chong Wei. We don’t feel jealous and I feel if we don’t discuss these things we would be degrading ourselves. It is so important to share the vital inputs in facing the big names in World badminton,” Srikanth said.

Field wide open

For his part, Gopi Chand said the men’s competition was wide open with a lot of Indonesians, Japanese, Malaysians being there at the top unlike in women’s section when Saina won the 2012 Olympics bronze.

“The important thing is that these players (men shuttlers) have realised the importance of playing as a team. The camaraderie is something which really pleases me in this group of champion players,” Gopi said.

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“And, if you ask me whether the men’s shuttlers too will be feared now by the Chinese as Saina and Sindhu have done so successfully, I would put it this way —they have the potential to do much better. It is important to win in big events like Olympics, Worlds and the Asian Games though I still consider the recent Indonesian Open was the toughest given the number of top players who featured there,” Gopi said.

H.S. Prannoy said that in the next few weeks, there was a possibility of at least three Indians figuring in the top 10 given the way they had been performing. “It is an amazing feeling to be here in the company of my fellow champions Srikanth and Sai Praneeth and thanks to Gopi Sir for all the wonderful guidance and support,” he said.

IDBI Federal CMO Karthik Raman presented cheques for Rs 3 lakh to Srikanth and ₹2 lakh to Prannoy for their performances as part of their five-year partnership in ‘Quest for Excellence’ with Gopi Academy.

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