Vastavam web: Kidambi Srikanth today became the first Indian male shuttler to achieve the world number one ranking in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) chart released today.Legendary Prakash Padukone was revered as the world number one player during his hey days before the modern day computerised ranking system was introduced.Srikanth thus became only the second Indian after Saina Nehwal, who had occupied the women’s top spot in 2015, to achieve the feat, following his consistent run last year, when he won four titles to be also bestowed with the Padma Shri award.
“It’s a testament to the hard work of Gopi sir, my family, my other coaches and support staff, my team GoSports Foundation, my sponsors, and everyone else who has believed in me over the years.” Srikanth’s meteoric rise coincided with world champion Viktor Axelsen’s injury lay-off as the Danish star, forced to spend time off the court, slipped one place to second spot after failing to defend his Malaysia Open title that he had clinched in April last year.After retiring from Indonesia Masters in January due to an ankle injury, Axelsen was forced to withdraw from India Open, the All England Championship, the European Championships as he had to undergo surgery on his foot.Srikanth, who had clinched titles at Indonesia, Australia, Denmark and Australia last year, rose to greater heights after he dispatched three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei in straight games in the crucial mixed team final to earn India a historic gold at the ongoing Commonwealth Games.
“It’s been a great year, but I have many more goals, and right now, my focus is on coming good at the big events and achieving many more milestones. The Commonwealth Games is on, and this year also holds the Asian Games,” the 25-year-old Indian said.Praising Srikanth, Badminton Association of India (BAI) president Himanta Biswa Sarma said: It is a great thing for Indian badminton and I believe Srikanth’s wonderful achievement will motivate other players to perform well and aim to go up higher on the rankings.
“I would like to congratulate him and believe that he will continue inspire the generations to come, he said.Among other Indians, Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu, who was sporadically ranked number two, is currently at third spot, while Saina is currently at the 12th place.