A new dawn begins in Indian badminton
- Never before had the shuttlers collectively shared the spotlight to deliver one of the most glittering trophies in Indian sporting history.
Indian badminton has always relied on the flickering of individual spark to bring home moments of glory. From Prakash Padukone (All-England champion in 1980) and Pullela Gopichand (All-England champion in 2001) to Saina Nehwal (first Indian shuttler to win an Olympic medal in 2012) and PV Sindhu (double Olympic medallist and world champion), many have shone bright on the global stage. But never before had the shuttlers collectively shared the spotlight to deliver one of the most glittering trophies in Indian sporting history.
That is where the Indian men’s team’s Thomas Cup triumph truly stands out. It was the sum of every individual’s grit, hunger and skill in a squad that believed in climbing together while scaling a peak that no Indian team had come close to in the tournament’s 73-year history. What else explains the young Lakshya Sen turning up on the back of three consecutive losses, yet delivering the first singles victory in the final against Indonesia on Sunday? Or Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy saving match points before getting past doubles world No 1 Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and No 2 Mohammad Ahsan? Or Kidambi Srikanth putting the contest to bed in the third match to save the nerves?
India lost to Chinese Taipei in the group stage, but that hardly seemed to matter in the knock-outs. To get past Malaysia in the quarter-finals and then Denmark in the semi-finals is one thing, beating them both 3-2 with HS Prannoy standing tall in the deciders is another. That Prannoy wasn’t even needed against 14-time champions Indonesia shows the way India grew from strength to strength against the powerhouses of world badminton. And just like that, a dream was realised, heralding a new dawn in Indian badminton.