As the excitement mounts with the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on the horizon, badminton enthusiasts in India are brimming with hope and anticipation.
The nation, which has witnessed a remarkable surge in badminton prowess on the global stage in recent times, eagerly awaits the impeccable performances of its skilled shuttlers.
In recent years, Indian badminton has seen an extraordinary surge, driven by the exceptional skills and dedication of its players. However, the coveted gold medal has remained elusive in the sport at the Asian Games, despite India's overall impressive tally of 155 gold medals in the event's 72-year history.
The nation eagerly awaits the day when its badminton stars will clinch that elusive yellow metal, marking a historic triumph and further cementing India's prowess in the sport on the continental stage.
In the last edition, India won two medals in badminton -- PV Sindhu (Silver) and Saina Nehwal (Bronze). As the shuttlers, would like to better that tally at Asian Games 2023, take a look at the potential medal contenders, who will turn out to be a surprising asset at the forthcoming continental event.
SATWIKSAIRAJ RANKIREDDY & CHIRAG SHETTY (Men's Doubles)
India's doubles duo, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy stand as the country's most formidable asset. Their dominant performances, marked by a gold medal in the 2022 Commonwealth Games and subsequent titles at the Swiss Open and Indonesia Open, underline their prowess.
However, their most cherished victory came at the Badminton Asia Championships, where they etched their names in history with a triumphant gold.
The reigning Asian champions started the season as world no. 5. The wins at the Swiss Open 2023 (Super 300), Indonesia Open 2023 (Super 1000) and Korea Open (Super 500) saw them achieving their all-time career-best second spot in the latest BWF Rankings.
Satwik and Chirag have been in impressive form lately as they have remained unbeaten in all the seven finals they have played since 2022 (including the Commonwealth Games final).
HS PRANNOY (Men's Singles)
From 2022 to the present day, HS Prannoy has been in impressive form, earning him recognition as India's top medal hopeful for the upcoming Asian Games and the Paris Olympics scheduled for next year.
The year 2023 saw Prannoy clinching his maiden Super 500 title when he won the Malaysia Masters and later, he reached the second final of the season at the Australian Open.
Finally, last month the wait for the elusive world championship medal came to an end. Though he was a little disappointed the bronze meant a lot to him.
The 2023 BWF World Championship proved pivotal for Prannoy. After narrowly missing out on a medal in previous attempts, he secured a bronze in Copenhagen, Denmark. This victory elevated him to the prestigious league of Indian shuttlers who have proudly earned medals at the esteemed BWF Worlds.
At present, he is showcasing peak performance and holds the potential to astonish formidable opponents in significant tournaments.
TREESA JOLLY AND GAYATRI GOPICHAND ( A surprising element)
Since the turn of 2022 the women's doubles pair of Gayatri Gopichand and Treesa Jolly have been prominent in Indian badminton.
A flurry of successes, including a women’s doubles semi-final appearance at the All England Open 2022 after they bumped up from the reserves.
The same year, Treesa and Gayatri clinched a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Though the year 2023 has not been the best for the teenage duo, they are definitely a pair to look out for in the Asian Games.
PV SINDHU AND LAKSHYA SEN'S FORM IS A CAUSE OF CONCERN
Ace shuttler PV Sindhu's recent performance is a cause for concern due to her inability to consistently achieve favourable outcomes. She has faced challenges in maintaining her physical condition and achieving her desired level of performance after coming out of a long injury layoff.
Sindhu has not been at her best in the 2023 season as she suffered seven opening-round exits and three Round of 16 departures. She made just one final and two quarterfinals and as many semi-final appearances in 15 tournaments she has played so far this year.
Despite facing some challenges, Sindhu remains an exceptionally skilled player with the capacity to secure significant titles again. Although she is struggling at the moment, Sindhu can bounce back stronger.
Lakshya Sen, after a remarkable season last year, when he secured his inaugural BWF Super 500 title at the India Open, etched his name in history by clinching a remarkable second-place finish at the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championships and a Commonwealth Games title.
His form dipped in 2023. He struggled in six post-Commonwealth tournaments, not progressing past the second round. Consequently, he slipped from the top 10 rankings.
Lakshya showcased resilience by winning the 2023 Canada Open men's singles title this year, reaffirming his immense potential. With unwavering dedication and talent, he's set to rise again and keep shining for India on the global stage.