Doubles specialist Chirag Shetty has credited Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu for leading the meteoric rise of badminton in India. Also Read - Badminton: Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth's Chances to Qualify For Tokyo Olympics Virtually Over With Singapore Open Cancellation

Saina became the first India shuttler to have won an Olympic medal when she clinched bronze at the London Games in 2012. At the Rio Games in 2016, Sindhu returned home with a silver medal from women’s singles, thus creating history. Also Read - Malaysian Open Postponed, Big Setback For Indian Shuttlers

“Badminton is currently the second most popular sport in the country after cricket, the meteoric rise of the sport is courtesy of the medals won by Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu at the Olympics,” Shetty was quoted as saying by PTI. Also Read - Olympic Hopes All But Over For Saina Nehwal And Kidambi Srikanth as Indian Team Withdraws From Malaysian Open

Shetty has himself been a top-performer at the international level having won a gold in the mixed team event and a silver in men’s doubles at the CWG in 2018. He says that Saina and Sindhu made every budding shuttler believe that achieving success at the top level of the sport for an Indian is possible.

“They have been the biggest motivation which the sport in our country needed and now everyone who wants to take up badminton professionally believes that it is possible,” Shetty said.

He also feels that the upcoming Khelo India University Games, slated to start from February 22 in Odisha, will help in unearthing more talent from different disciplines.  “I think there are plenty of national-level prospects that can be tapped from the Khelo India University Games. If the deserved candidates can be helped with scholarships, nutrition and the right kind of guidance, we can create a strong pool of athletes who could eventually go on to represent India in the international circuit,” the 22-year-old said.