— by Arun Arnaw Khare —
When one looked back at the proceedings on the Badminton court during the last twelve months, he finds himself highly satisfied as a number of Indian players have etched their names in history books of the Indian Badminton. PV Sindhu was the toast of the Indian success with an unprecedented silver medal in the Rio Olympics. K Srikanth made it to the quarterfinals at Rio and won the Syed Modi International championship at Lucknow. The victory of HS Prannoy in the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold at Basel, Saurabh Verma’s in the Chinese Taipei Grand Prix and B Sai Praneeth in the Canada Grand Prix were the highlights of the year in which Indian badminton achieved unprecedented success. Indian badminton also made new breakthroughs in the season gone by with the men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy winning the Canada Open and becoming the first Indian men’s pair to qualify for the Olympics. The mixed doubles combination of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki Reddy also had a memorable year as they won two Grand Prix titles at Brazil and Russia and finished runners-up at Scotland Open. The young Ruthvika Shivani Gadde also claimed the women’s singles title at Russia. The Indian women’s team also clinched a bronze medal for thesecond time after suffering a 0-3 defeat at the hands of defending champions China in the semi-finals of the Uber Cup at Kunshan in May.
Lean and lanky Sindhu gave away stunning performance in the Rio Olympics where she tread on her way to the final. Her opening round victory against the wily Chinese-born Canadian Michelle Li was tough enough, but then, she simply went from strength to strength as she eliminated Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in the round of 16 and China’s 2011 world champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Wang Yihan, in successive rounds. She then ousted Nozomi Okuhara of Japan 21-19, 21-10 in the semi-final before going down to world number one Carolina Marin 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 in the final. Prior to this success, Sindhu had won Malaysian Masters Grand Prix Gold and later went on to pick up her first Super Series title in China and then reach the final of the Hong Kong Super Series event. She also qualified for the year ending BWF Finals Super Series in Dubai, where she reached the semi finals defeating world number one Marin on the way.
Struggling with injuries, the former world number one Saina Nehwal had little to show. However she did well prior to the Olympics by winning the Australian Open Super Series title. She knocked out Thailand’s 2013 world champion Ratchanok Intanon, 2011 world champion Wang Yihan and another Chinese, Sun Yu, on her way to the to the first major title of the year.