Kidambi Srikanth has made the entire nation proud by winning the Australian Open, with a hard fought victory against Olympic champion Chen Long. Unfortunately, despite being one of the best badminton talents in the country, he is not a household name as much as Saina Nehwal or PV Sindhu. But, a few more performances like this one, will certainly help him and he could be a serious medal contender at the 2020 Olympics that will be held in Tokyo.
Let’s take a look at some things about Srikanth that you probably didn’t know.
He shifted from playing doubles to playing singles
It was a big decision for Srikanth, and something recommended by his coach P. Gopichand. “It was tough. What was tougher was coping with not getting results immediately in singles,” Srikanth says in an interview with Indian Express.
He wasn’t really good at running once
Badminton is a sport that requires a lot of running around, and unfortunately Srikanth found that aspect of the game difficult during his younger years. It was P. Gopichand who made him focus on this aspect through sprint sessions, and now Srikanth is as good as anyone. “Before Olympics, he puked and almost fainted in those sessions,” Gopichand was quoted as saying by Indian Express.
He defeated his idol Lin Dan in China Open, 2014
It’s a dream come true for any athlete to compete against their idol, leave alone win against them. Which is why Srikanth’s victory over Lin Dan remains one of the major highlights of his career.
His brother, K Nandgopal is also a badminton player and a support system for Srikanth
Badminton runs in Srikanth’s blood, with his brother K Nandgopal too playing the sport with some success. “He’d explain to me how things happen on the international circuit. He told me — if Gopi Sir trusts your ability so much, why don’t you trust yourself,” Srikanth says in an interview with Indian Express.
He suffered from brain fever in 2014, but came back stronger than ever
In 2014, Kidambi Srikanth suffered a major setback in the form of brain fever, which left his family extremely worried (he was fighting for his life in the ICU). “We were worried about his survival. He went through the most dangerous phase of his life. From then on it was a big task for us to motivate him. He struggled in a few tournaments after that,” he said.
He’s won the Arjuna Award in 2015
Arjuna Award given by the Government Of India, for outstanding achievement in sport, across many sports. In 2015, Srikanth was given this award along with a cash prize of Rs 5 Lakhs.