Recovering from Brain Fever to becoming World Number 1: The story of Kidambi Srikanth
The year was 2014. Kidambi Srikanth was fighting for his life in the ICU of a hospital in Hyderabad. He had been found unconscious in the washroom of Pullela Gopichand’s Badminton Academy. Somehow, he managed to survive and slowly got back in the groove. By November the same year, he had beaten Lin Dan in the final of the China Grand Prix.
The rise of Srikanth in the world of badminton has been swift. Coming from a rural background, it was his brother Nandagopal who introduced him to Pullela Gopichand at his academy. Originally a doubles player, it was in 2011 that he took up the singles game and started exceling in it.
Srikanth had been poor at running growing up and it took gruelling sessions over the years to perfect his technique. “Before Olympics, he puked and almost fainted in those sessions,” Gopichand was quoted as saying.
We list down some of the achievements of the boy from Andhra Pradesh:
- In 2011, he emerged winner in the singles and doubles category at the All India Junior International Badminton Championship held in Pune.
- In 2013, Kidambi won the Men’s singles title at the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold event beating local favourite Boonsak Ponsana in straight sets in the final.
- In 2015, Kidambi became the first Indian male to win gold at the 2015 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold by defeating Viktor Axelsen in 3 sets.
- In 2016, he won the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships Grand Prix Gold title, defeating Huang Yuxiang 21–13, 14–21, 21–14 in the final.
- In 2017, Kidambi became the fourth player ever to win four Super Series titles in a year after winning the French, Australian, Danish and Indonesian Super Series titles.
- IN 2018, he helped India win the mixed team event Gold and won Silver in the Men’s Singles event. Briefly, he became the World Number 1 as well.
India would be hoping for an Olympic Gold from Srikanth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.