Rio Olympics 2016: Tracing India's performance in Badminton since 1992
The Indian Badminton contingent will start their Olympics campaign, amidst a lot of hope and expectations. India is sending its largest ever contingent to Rio — 121 athletes in all, and badminton is one sport where the chances to win medals look bright. In Saina Nehwal, PV SIndhu and P. Kashyap we have players who can hold their own during this edition.
We take a look at India’s performance since the 1991 Barcelona Games.
India at 1992 Barcelona Olympics
3 athletes participated in the 1992 Olympics which included Saina Nehwal's current coach Vimal Kumar along with Madhumita Bisht and Deepankar Bhattacharya.
Unfortunately, there were no podium finishes in these events.
1996 Atlanta Olympics
The number dropped down to 2 in the next edition of the games held in Atlanta.
Varalakshimi Pandimukkala Venkata (21 years, 259 days) and Deepankar Bhattacharya (24 years, 175 days) represented India at the games.
The medals cabinet was empty in this edition too.
2000 Sydney Games
Pullela Gopichand and Aparna Popat represented India at Sydney, but unfortunately even after a lot of expectations they could not win medals.
Popat was considered to be one of the greatest Indian female Badminton players as she has won the National Senior Women's Badminton title for a record 9 times.
Pullela Gopichand became the second Indian to win the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001. Currently, he is the Chief National Coach for the Indian Badminton team.
2004 Athens Games
The Badminton contingent comprised 3 players during the 2004 Athens Games, which included Nikhil Kanetkar, Abhinn Shyam Gupta and Aparna Popat.
Kanetkar defeated Sergio Llopis of Spain in the first round, but went down to Peter Gade of Denmark in the second tour.
Gupta lost in the round of 32 to Park Tae-sang of Korea.
Popat was the best performing player in 2004 as she reached the pre-quarter where she lost to the eventual silver medalist, Mia Audina in 3 games.
2008 Beijing Games
An 18-year old Saina Nehwal and 25-year old Anup Sridhar represented India in the 2008 games. There were no medallists in this edition too, but this edition was, by all means, a breakthrough one for Indian badminton.
Saina became the first Indian woman to reach the quarter-finals as she beat the then world number five Wang Chen of Hong Kong. In the quarter-finals, Saina lost a humdinger to world number 16 Maria Kristin Yulianti.
Sridhar defeated Marco Vasconcelos of Portugal in round 64 by 21-16, 21-14. He lost in round 16 to Shoji Sato of Japan by 13-21, 17-21.
2012 London Olympics
The largest contingent of 5 athletes represented India in the 2012 London Olympics. Saina Nehwal, Purupalli Kashyap, V Diju, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa were part of the Badminton team. If 2008 was a breakthrough moment, this edition was a watershed one for Indian Badminton, as after 20 years India finished with a medal.
Saina did the country proud as she finished with a bronze medal in this edition. Kashyap created history as he became the first male player from India to reach the Quarterfinals.
V Diju started his Olympic campaign along with Jwala Gutta in the mixed doubles but lost their opening match.
Jwala Gutta paired up with Ashwini Ponappa but missed out on the quarterfinal berth in controversial circumstances.