Olympic Games 2016: Can Srikanth and Sindhu emerge out of Saina's shadow and win medals of their own at Rio?
The 2016 Rio Olympics will see seven Indian shuttlers take to the courts of the Riocentro Pavillions in Brazil in their quest to win an Olympic medal. 4 among them will be representing India at their debut Olympic Games and will look to make an impression in front of the world.
We analyse the chances of two of those debutants- Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu.
Currently the highest ranked Men’s Singles player for India, Srikanth will be placing his stake at the Rio Olympics after an indifferent run in the months preceding it.
Born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, the 23-year old came into the limelight after winning the silver in mixed doubles in the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games at Isle of Man. He also won a bronze in the doubles category at that event.
His initial years were shaped under the tutelage of Pullela Gopichand, who is also the head coach of the Indian team. He trains at the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.
In 2014, he became the first Indian male to win the Super Series Premier, beating Lin Dan.
Claim to Fame
Beating five times World Champion and two times Olympic Champion Lin Dan in straight games, subsequently winning the 2014 China Super Series Premier.
He reached a career-best ranking of 3 in July 2014, the year he beat Dan.
Starting in 2013, he beat the home favourite, Boonsak Ponsana, in straight sets to win the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold. The same year, he beat Olympian and reigning champion Parupalli Kashyap, who will incidentally miss Rio due to injury.
This will be Srikanth’s maiden Olympics, having started playing senior-level Badminton in 2013. The year 2016 started with him reaching the semi-finals of the Malaysia Masters, where he was defeated by Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainnudin.
He followed it up with a gold in the Syed Modi International Championships and clinching two golds in the 2016 South Asian Games.
Coping with a strenuous schedule, he decided to give the Thomas Cup a miss in a bid to start afresh before his Rio journey.
Srikanth suffered a disappointing loss to Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the semi-finals of the Australian Open last month.
Kidambi’s recent form isn’t as inspiring, with first-round exits in five major tournaments in the last three months. However, fans will hope that Kidambi peaks at the right time.
Head to Head analysis
When Kidambi’s form against the top seeded players is analysed, it doesn’t make for a good read.
Against the highest ranked Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long, Kidambi has a 0-4 and 0-3 win-loss ratio respectively. He comprehensively lost the first two fixtures that he played against Lin Dan early in his career, yet he came back to beat the two-time Olympic champion in the finals of the 2014 Super Series Premier.
Against Viktor Axelsen, however, he has 2-1 win-loss ratio, beating him in the finals to clinch the Swiss Open in 2015, becoming the first Indian male to win a gold at the event.
Although he can upset the best of players on his day, Srikanth’s draws will have a big say in deciding how he fares at Rio.