What's the story?
Kidambi Srikanth, India's Tokyo 2020 Olympics medal hope in badminton men's singles, rose five spots in the latest "Race to Tokyo" Badminton World Rankings released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
In case you didn't know
Qualification for badminton at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is governed by the BWF World Rankings based on tournaments in the qualification period. For these rankings, only the tournaments held between April 29, 2019, and April 26, 2020, are taken into consideration and these rankings are called the "Race to Tokyo" Badminton World Rankings.
As per the qualification rules, in the singles events (both men and women) a maximum of 2 players can represent their country as long as both are ranked within the top 16 players in the world at the end of the qualification period. Otherwise, a country can be represented only by one player until the roster of thirty-eight players has been completed.
Similarly, in the doubles events (men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles), a maximum of 2 pairs can represent their country in each of these disciplines as long as both are ranked within the top 8 pairs in the world else a country can be represented only by one pair until the roster of 16 pairs has been completed.
Heart of the matter
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has released the latest "Race to Tokyo" BWF Olympic Qualification rankings as of February 18 2020.
As per the latest rankings, in the men's singles discipline, India has 6 players in the top 30 players but only B. Sai Praneeth is within the top 16 with a current ranking of 11, which he continues to hold from last week.
Kidambi Srikanth, who was considered India's biggest hope in men's singles after four Super Series wins in 2017 but has been hampered by injuries and bad form in the last couple of years, has risen 5 rungs from the last week's rankings.
He has moved up to 21 from his previous week's ranking of 26. With this jump, he has leapfrogged Sourabh Verma (ranked 23rd) and Parupalli Kashyap (ranked 24th), both of whom have dropped two places in the rankings. HS Prannoy (ranked 27th), up two places from last week, and Lakshya Sen (ranked 30th) are the other men's singles players in the top 30.
In the women's singles, both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have dropped one place each from their last week's rank of 6th and 22nd to be ranked 7th and 23rd respectively.
In the men's doubles, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have also dropped one place with Satwik battling an ankle injury and are currently ranked 9th. The next highest men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy are only ranked 35th.
In the women's doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy are India's highest-ranked pair at 30 while in the mixed doubles Satwik and Ashwini are the highest-ranked pair at 31.
With just 2 months to go for the qualification period of the Tokyo Olympics to end, the Indian badminton stars are in a race against time to qualify for the quadrennial event.
With Sindhu, Sai Praneeth and the men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty more or less assured of their spot at the Olympics, the race is on for Saina and the men's singles players to assure India 2 spots in both the women's and men's singles draw.Published 19 Feb 2020, 15:33 IST