The sport has changed drastically in the last one decade.
Badminton in India is a booming sport, but it was not like that in the 20th century, when players like Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand, Madhumita Bisht, Aparna Popat rose through the ranks. They started the revolution but at that point, India lacked infrastructure and proper facilities. Hence, some of them had the potential, but did not make it to the top.
However things started changing drastically as money was invested in the sport, soon facilities improved and the investment bore fruit, as shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, K Srikanth, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponappa and so on came up on a consistent basis and represented India on the big stage, winning several accolades.
So we here at Khel Now take a look at the top 5 Indian shuttlers:-
5. Pullela Gopichand
The man from Hyderabad is a legend in Indian badminton. The current generation knows him for his exceptional coaching, but Gopichand as a player also reached a very high level globally. He had the quality to compete with the world’s best shuttlers of his time.
Gopichand’s daunting win in the All England Championship back in 2001 proved his mettle, as he defeated the likes of Peter Gade and Cheng Hong. He had the technique and the charisma to be a legend of the game, but incessant injuries did put roadblocks in his career, as he gradually delved into coaching where he has achieved great success.
4. Kidambi Srikanth
Another badminton star from Andhra Pradesh who became the best male shuttler of the current generation. Srikanth became World No. 1 in the Men’s Singles category in April 2018, after his scintillating display throughout the 2017-18 season.
His raw willpower and attacking style of play sometimes make him unstoppable and on his day he can take any opponent down. The same works to his disadvantage also, but his seven Super Series titles remain an all-time high for an Indian male shuttler to date.
Although, injuries have played their role and Srikanth has fallen off the radar, the 27-year-old is currently working hard to get back to his prime with the Tokyo Olympics in mind.
3. Prakash Padukone
Prakash Padukone was a generational talent in the world of Badminton and an inspiration for all Indian shuttlers. He played the sport at a time when it was less fancied among the youth, unlike today.
Padukone became the first Indian to win the All England Championships in 1980 and followed it up by winning the World Cup in 1981. He also became the first Indian shuttler to clinch the World No. 1 ranking.
His achievements echoed even more because of the lack of infrastructure at that time in the country. Therefore, he motivated and inspired youngsters to take up the racquet and represent India on the global stage.
2. Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal is considered one of the biggest ambassadors for Badminton in India and also around the globe. Her consistent performances and indomitable approach to the game made her unbeatable at times. She was the first Indian shuttler to win a medal in the Olympics when she clinched bronze at the 2016 London Olympics.
Her 24 International titles which include 11 Superseries titles prove her mettle in the sport and her overall impact on our young generation, who one day aspire to be at her level. She was only the second Indian shuttler to achieve World No.1 ranking after Padukone.
Saina’s accolades are endless but her impact overall inspired a lot of young girls to take up sports and pursue their dreams.
1. PV Sindhu
The baton which Saina Nehwal carried for a long time was transferred to PV Sindhu in the last few years and just like her senior compatriot, Sindhu has raised the bar of Badminton in India. The popularity that the sport has currently in India is thanks to the two poster girls who made it possible at the world stage and became examples to millions of people.
Sindhu started her career back in 2009 and broke into the top 20 in 2012 at the age of only 17. While people around her recognized her talent, little did they know that the young girl from Hyderabad will write her history in a few years. From becoming the first Indian shuttler to reach an Olympic final in 2016 and clinching silver to being the World Champion in Badminton in 2019, Sindhu has done it all.
She is one of the biggest sporting icons of India. She has represented her country at the biggest and grandest levels and owned the court several times against the world’s best all within the age of 24.
With the Tokyo Olympics inching closer, Indian sports-lovers will pin their hopes on the Hyderabadi shuttler to go for gold this time, something she would like to do after missing out against Carolina Marin in Brazil back in 2016.