Four years after a trailblazing season that saw him win a record-breaking four Super Series titles and climb to the top spot in the men's world rankings, Kidambi Srikanth is back among the best and biggest names in world badminton with his silver medal-winning performance at the 2021 BWF World Championships. That too, just months after missing out on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
The 28-year-old has now started the new Olympics cycle by becoming the first Indian male to win a silver at the Badminton World Championships, last week in Spain, and he spoke to The Quint about his journey to the tournament, his journey to the title and his plans fo what's to follow,
Congratulations on the World Championship medal. You're now ranked third in the world after that campaign, back among the world's best. It's been a bit of a journey back, your first thoughts on returning to be ranked among the best?
It feels great. I’m very happy. It was always a dream to win a medal at the world championships and finally, its has come true.
There was a chance of you actually not participating in the tournament itself! There were visa issues and you confirmed your travel only three days before your first match?
I got my visa on Thursday evening, I took a flight from Hyderabad to Delhi on Friday afternoon and then flew to Spain early morning and reached Saturday evening. I played my first match on Sunday evening. So I didn’t really have any court practise, I didn’t know how the shuttles were, how the courts were. Nothing. I just played my first match and then I took the day off.
While you won the silver, we had another Indian on the same podium with 20-year-old Lakshya Sen winning the bronze. Was great to be part of that all-Indian semi-final with him as well?
I’ve known him for a long time. He’s played exceptionally well during the last few months and he actually won some really good matches, even at the World Championships. He’s very young and he definitely has a very bright career ahead.
The World Championship silver also has been won in a year where there was the Tokyo Olympics but you could not qualify for them after the BWF cancelled many qualification events. Does this in a way help you personally feel like you salvaged your season?
I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t qualify but again, I didn’t have anything in my hands. Everything was out of my control. The tournaments got cancelled and I couldn’t do anything about it but now, I got the opportunity to play more tournaments and the World Championship medal is the icing on the cake. An ideal way to finish the season.