As the 2015 badminton season hits Indian shores with the Syed Modi Grand Prix, it is a good moment to analyze the 2014 season for Indian shuttlers.
2014 – A Year that depicted the depth in Indian Badminton
It was a stellar season for Indian badminton that saw Indian shuttlers break new grounds and achieve unprecedented glory. In one of the biggest years for Indian badminton, our players won 15 individual international titles. Shuttle queen Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth led the way, with the highlight being the Indian sweep of the individual titles at the China Open. It was also heartening to see many Indian players winning at different levels in 2014.
India did well in the team championships too capturing a historic bronze at the Uber Cup , followed by a great display at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games where India bagged four medals. Finally the Indian women’s badminton squad ended a 28-year medal drought at the Asian Games.
Major Individual Achievements for Indian badminton in 2014
Saina Nehwal hogged the limelight once again last year after a lean 2013. She started the year on a bright note, reigning supreme at the Syed Modi Indian Grand Prix by beating PV Sindhu in the summit clash. The win began the march back into the top 5 of the world rankings for Saina Nehwal. Saina then annexed the Australian Open Super Series showing glimpses of the champion that she is.
Determined to refresh her thought process and her game, Saina made a major change in her coaching team, opting to go for the Bangalore-based Vimal Kumar over her long-time mentor Pullela Gopichand. The decision was questioned from all quarters but Saina responded like a true champion with an incredible win at the China Open. Saina also ended the year well with a semi-final appearance at the prestigious World Superseries Finals.
Teen sensation PV Sindhu continued to make rapid strides on the badminton circuit. She clinched as many as five medals in different events throughout the year out of which the biggest one was the World Championship bronze. Sindhu thus emulated her own feat from last year and now has 2 World Championship bronze medals.
The medal once again validates the potential of Sindhu as well as signals towards a bright future for this gritty girl. Sindhu, too, had a good end to her season with a title at the Macau Open Grand Prix.
Kidambi Srikanth left an indelible impression and ensured that Indian men’s badminton did not stay out of the spotlight. Beginning the year in the 40s, he finished ranked No. 4.
A key turning point for Srikanth was the China Open where he put up a fearless display to get the better of Lin Dan in the final. Srikanth thus became the first Indian man ever to win a Super Series Premier title. The 21-year-old capped a remarkable year by reaching the Hong Kong Open semi-finals and the World Superseries Finals semi-finals.
Young HS Prannoy showed a lot of stamina in reaching back-to-back finals at Vietnam GP Open and Indonesian Masters Grand Prix. Although Prannoy lost at Vietnam he bounced back in style and captured his maiden title in Indonesia. The youngster also clinched the Tata Open at the end of the year. These wins helped him shoot up to World No. 21 in the BWF rankings.
Ajay Jayaram made a fantastic comeback from a seven month layoff due to a shoulder injury with a win at the Dutch Open Grand Prix. He also emerged victorious at the National-ranking badminton tournament held in December.
There were also other Indian winners like Arvind Bhat, Sourabh Verma, Subhankar Dey, PC Thulasi and Riya Pillai who showed great promise.
Major Team Achievements for Indian Badminton in 2014
Asian Badminton Championships
PV Sindhu captured the bronze medal at the Badminton Asia Championships. India got another medal in the elite meet in Gimcheon with a bronze from the seasoned doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa.
India’s surge in the women’s team events started with the Uber Cup in Delhi. The women’s team spearheaded by Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu won a historic bronze medal by beating fancied teams like Thailand.
India had a memorable outing in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games. Parupalli Kashyap delighted all Indian badminton fans by ending India’s 32-year-old agonising wait for a Gold medal. RMV Gurusaidutt clinched the men’s singles bronze and India’s women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponappa got the silver. PV Sindhu had to settle for a bronze in women’s singles.
A 28-year-old Asian Games medal drought came to an end when the women’s team flourished once again. The ever reliable duo of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu got India to the semi final stage. The Indian women fought hard but went down to South Korea in the semi-finals, thus finishing their campaign with the bronze. India had last won a women’s team medal at the Asiad way back in 1982.
With the emergence of new talent we seem ready to conquer the world. Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth’s victories at the China Open are of great significance as it will not only boost their confidence but will embolden other rising stars as well.
The 2015 season is extremely important ahead of the Rio Olympics. The packed badminton calendar will be a test of endurance and patience for the Indian shuttlers. The season may also see a return of Indian Badminton League. While performing at the highest level is necessary, fitness will also be a crucial part of the planning ahead of an Olympic year. It will be interesting to see how the Indian badminton players manage the workload in the 2015 season. Follow all the action at Sports Rediscovered