Badminton rewind 2017: Shuttling to new heightsDecember 26, 2017, Delhi
Like every year in the last decade or so, Indian badminton rose another notch in 2017. Indian shuttlers — men and women alike — performed brilliantly on the international circuit to bring home laurels and achieve levels which hadn’t been reached previously.
Unquestionably, the two biggest newsmakers were Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu, both of whom qualified for the prestigious year-ending Superseries Finals in Dubai, with Sindhu losing in the final and Srikanth making an early exit.
But the highlight of the year was the women’s singles final between Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara and Sindhu at the Glasgow World Championships in August. That epic summit clash that lasted an hour and 50 minutes could have gone either way. Nozomi proved a tad better on the day to claim the all-important title. Sindhu, nevertheless, became only the second Indian after Saina Nehwal to reach the final of the World Championships and claim silver.
The Hyderabadi also achieved a career-high ranking of world No 2 apart from winning two Superseries titles – at home and in South Korea. The 22-year-old had also won the Syed Modi International Grand Prix Gold at the start of the year.
Discussion on Indian badminton won’t be complete without mention of Saina Nehwal, who not so long ago was the undisputed queen of badminton in India. However, since the 2016 Rio Olympics, the limelight has shifted to Sindhu.
Saina went out of action in August 2016 after undergoing knee surgery. On comeback, she won the Malaysia Masters in January but was far from her best. The former world No 1 suffered a few early-round exits but slowly started regaining form and confidence towards the middle of the year. At the World Championships, the 27-year-old surprised all to claim bronze, exactly a year after she went under the knife.