Indian badminton is on a new high with the doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty making waves, but the fallout of the singles has been bothering the badminton fraternity in general.
With Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu’s poor show at the international arena off late, the search is on for the budding youngsters to take the dynamic duo's place and fill the vacuum in the singles area.
“It is an area of concern (singles) for all of us, and I am sure in few years from now we should have a new crop to make up,” was the positive notion, Vimal Kumar, the former Indian coach and the current mentor of Lakshya Sen who trains at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, Bengaluru.
Vimal Kumar lists out promising talents in singles badminton
"Lakshya Sen in the men’s and upcoming Tanisha Crasto are the players who have been showing promising talents,” said Vimal Kumar while naming a few, besides others.
But, the doubles pair are on the podium and the recent triumphs by both Chirag and Satwik and Ashwini Ponappa and Tanisha Crasto have given some glimpses of glory for the sport that owes its origins to India. It was the early signs of badminton coming from the town of Pune. It was known as Poona or Poonah after the place.
'Systematic support to players is key'
"I think systematic support to the players has been the key for the turnaround in doubles," feels Vimal Kumar, former India coach and current mentor of Lakshya Sen, who trains at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy.
"I'll give a lot of credit to Tan Kim Her. He played a major role, he groomed many pairs. Many foreign players have been playing in India, especially with the PBL happening. The Indians got a chance to interact with the top foreign players and it made a huge difference. So I feel reviving the league will be key."
"Thomas Cup win also made a big difference, it has also inspired others to take up doubles. Many small academies are now grooming doubles players. Overall, it is the best phase for Indian pair events."
Change in mindset towards doubles behind its success
Multiple Commonwealth Games medallist Ashwini feels a change in "mindset" towards doubles has made the difference.
"Players are getting doubles training now, youngsters are lucky now that such push is given to doubles. Satwik and Chirag have taken the baton to a new degree and set the benchmark high, so it is exciting.
"We have foreign coaches and they are implementing those ideas while training. Also, Indian coaches have gotten better."
With many international championships lined up in the next two years, the Indian shuttlers taking part in Asian Games has not been given importance as they would be more interested in booking their places at the Paris Olympics next year.
"Yes, Asian Games is not on the top of the agenda for us (badminton) and it would be the qualifying for Paris Olympics, So there is no serious concern for the Asian Games," said Vimal Kumar.