Ever since the Badminton World Federation (BWF) issued their statement last Friday, which sealed the fate of Kidambi Srikanth as far as Tokyo Olympics qualification is concerned, life has not been the same for the former world No. 1.
The sport's global governing body last week confirmed that no further tournaments will be played inside the qualifying window. As a result, India's top shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal missed the bus for the Tokyo Olympics.
Kidambi Srikanth was gutted when the BWF came out with that statement, which ended whatever little hope he had of making it to his second successive Olympics.
Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Kidambi Srikanth said:
“I am definitely sad. There is no denying that. The mood of my entire family is not good after we came to know about that heart-shattering news. I wanted to represent India in the Olympics and bring some glory to the nation. I am still finding it difficult to digest the fact that I won’t be there in Tokyo.”
The world No. 14 missed the Olympic berth by a whisker as he could not improve his rankings due to a series of tournament cancelations in the last few months because of the raging pandemic.
Based on the Race to Tokyo standings, the top-16 players in the men’s and women’s singles category and top-eight pairs in the men’s doubles and women’s doubles earn direct quota places for their respective countries, restricted to two.
I would have qualified if not for tournament cancelations: Kidambi Srikanth
Even though the qualification period officially closes only on June 15, the current Race to Tokyo rankings will remain unchanged following the cancelation of all tournaments.
According to Kidambi Srikanth:
“It was not a big issue for me to qualify for the Olympics. I just needed 6000 odd points to make the cut. It was absolutely within my reach. If I could have got to play at least three tournaments out of six which were canceled I would have definitely made it. It was frustrating to miss out. I was helpless. In fact everyone associated with the sports was helpless. Nobody could do anything as the situation was not right to hold any tournament.”
The 28-year-old Kidambi Srikanth said the BWF should have re-examined the criteria for qualification, considering the extraordinary situation, to benefit players who were on the verge of landing an Olympic quota.
The federation’s decision means Saina Nehwal will miss out on what would've been her fourth successive Olympics. Kidambi Srikanth had been playing well and if experts are to be believed he would have certainly made inroads in the competition in Tokyo.
Terming it unfortunate for players like him who were very close to making the cut, Kidambi Srikanth, winner of several Super Series events, said:
“I have been playing well in the last few tournaments which were held before the situation got out of control since April. I did well in the Swiss Open and All England Championships and was confident of making it to Tokyo. It would have been great had BWF looked into this matter and made the right decision. It is unfortunate for players like me who were so close to making it.”
Kidambi Srikanth, who had reached the quarterfinals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is now trying to overcome the disappointment and look beyond Tokyo. He has set his sights on the next Olympics.
“I know I won’t be there in Tokyo but there will be the next Olympics and then another one in four years' time after that. I still have a chance to play in the next Olympics if I stay fit and keep performing well. Missing Tokyo is not the end of the world for me. There is a life beyond that. You can still achieve much more for India if you work hard and chase your dreams.”
Kidambi Srikanth is also focusing on doing well in other major sporting events over the next couple of years. He is determined to work hard to achieve his goals.
“I am doing my regular fitness and training. I must look forward rather than wasting time thinking about the things which were not in my control. I am following my coach Pullela Gopichand’s advice. I will work even harder to bring glory to the nation in the next Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. These are also equally important events and I am concentrating on doing well in those games.”
Kidambi Srikanth also has a word of praise for B Sai Praneeth, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Both Kidambi Srikanth and B Sai Praneeth have been training at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad for more than a decade now.
“We are fighters on the court but off the courts we are friends. I want to wish Sai Praneeth all the very best for the Tokyo Olympics. He has earned his place with his sheer hard work and inspiring performances in the last few years. I am happy for him and all the other Indian athletes who have qualified for the Olympics. The whole country will support them and cherish their performances if they bring glory to the nation.”