Badminton: Why doubles event is India’s best medal hope at Paris Olympics 2024?
All the star Indian singles players have hit lows since the Commonwealth Games.
Even as the news of Lakshya Sen slipping to the 25th rank in the men’s singles has come out, in recent times, the Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwik-Chirag and the women’s doubles pair of Treesa and G Gopichand has given hope to the Indian fans that they could be in with the best chance to win an Olympic medal in Badminton at the Paris Olympic games in 2024.
PV Sindhu, arguably India’s best-ever women’s singles player created history when she won back-to-back awards at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2021. But her form in 2023 has not been up to the mark too, that said the Indian doubles pair as mentioned above has gone from strength to strength in the last 12 months. Let us look at why they are in with the best chance to win a medal at Paris Olympics 2024.
SatChi leading from the front
At the last Olympic games in 2021, after losing only to the world’s No. 1 pair, the Indian pair of Satwik-Chirag returned home after the group stage. They had even beaten the Olympic winners in three nail-biting games. The debutants had a strong effort, but a podium finish was out of their reach due to the tough nature of the games, but a year later, in the same country, their fortunes changed.
They won the bronze medal at the World Championships, the first-ever men’s doubles pair from India to achieve the feat. They started 2022 by winning the India Open Super 500. They were instrumental in India’s historic Thomas Cup victory. They won gold in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, another first for Indian badminton. They then won the French Open, which was their first Super 750 title.
Finally, they finished the year in the top five in the rankings. The current coach of the Indian badminton men’s doubles, Mathias Boe in a recent interview with RevSportz also sounded confident about Satwik-Chirag’s pair doing well this year as well as a claim a medal at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“For Satwik and Chirag, we can talk about medals. The pressure is on them because they are good enough to win the Olympics and all the tournaments. They know that. They try to use this pressure in a positive way. I see them as one of the best pairs in the world. When they play well, it becomes really tough for the opponents. They have the power and reading of the game. We all three want to win. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen here in All England. But we are hungry for more and the next aim is the Swiss Open because right now, we are good enough to win. And they are good enough to win medals at Asian Games and Paris Olympics. We are ready for challenges and really positive about them,” Boe was quoted as saying by the media house.
That said it is also a fact that the men’s doubles have been the most competitive it has ever been in recent times, no one couple has regularly won tournaments, and it’s been difficult to determine what constitutes an upset. That has resulted in an excitingly open field, so Satwik-Chirag must understand that in order to develop, they must cover all bases at all times.
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GaTree not far behind
When we talk about the women’s doubles pair of Treesa and G. Gopichand they too have given solid performances. During the last two years, the duo’s performances have made ripples in international badminton, confirming their status as emerging stars in the sport.
Their recent strong performance in the 2023 All England Open Championships attests to their increasing status on the world badminton scene. The Indian duo’s accomplishment is especially notable given that they were fighting against players of better rank. The All England Open Championships in 2022-23 was a letdown for the Indian team as a whole. None of the players in the singles category, men or women, advanced past the second round.
The semi-final performance of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand for the second consecutive year was the only positive outcome for India from the All England Open, the oldest and one of the most famous badminton championships. The duo started the season with a straight-game victory over Thailand’s seventh seeds and higher-ranked opponents Jongkolphan Kititharakul and Rawinda Prajongjai.
Later in the quarter-finals, they advanced to the semi-finals by defeating the Chinese duo of Li Wen Mei and Liu Xuan Xuan. The duo did not qualify for the main draw of the previous All England Open and were placed in the reserves. Making the last four in 2022 was a huge accomplishment, but it came as a surprise. Nonetheless, their second semi-final appearance in a row implies that Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand are a force to be reckoned with.
Even the India men’s doubles coach, Mathias Boe lavished praise on the girls, “I am proud of the girls. Reaching the semi-finals back-to-back in The England Open here. It is remarkable. Taking their age into consideration, only 19 and 20-year-olds, the way they played here. They have really grown”, Boe told RevSportz in an exclusive interview.
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