The recent times have not been so enterprising for Indian badminton star Kidambi Srikanth. During the last six months, the Hyderabadi shuttler, a former world No. 1 slipped to 26th in the BWF Race to 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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). Srikanth, 26, is determined to seal a berth for the main event.
“I really want to participate in the Olympics and do well. I know I have gone through a tough phase in the last six months, but I am looking forward to regaining my full fitness and doing well,” Srikanth told PTI on Thursday.
“I think the Indian badminton contingent definitely has a very good chance of doing extremely well at the Olympics if we are consistent in the tournament.”
He credited Pulella Gopichand for badminton’s rise and said the national coach is solely responsible for unearthing “so many champions”.
“I would like to credit Gopichand sir for the growth of badminton in India. He has created so many champions from his academy. He has built such a good infrastructure when there was nothing at one point,” the current world number 15 Srikanth said.
He also lavished praise on the Government of India’s flagship Khelo India programme. “I think it’s very important for youngsters to have financial support. It lifts the burden off the parents and also helps athletes attain their targets. The Khelo India scheme will take care of all expenses once the athlete is included in the program. So, we can definitely see a lot of kids becoming Olympic medallists in the future,” Srikanth said.
Asked about the upcoming Khelo India University Games, Srikanth said it will start a new sporting culture in India.
“The Khelo India University Games is going to start a new culture where the colleges and universities will adapt sports into their study system. Ultimately, this will help more people take up sports,” he said.
The first edition of the Khelo India University Games is scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1.