Jakarta: Indian men’s badminton's biggest hope Kidambi Srikanth on Thursday exuded confidence of performing well at the 18th Asian Games commencing here on August 18.
With four leading players—PV Sindhu (ranked No 3 in the world), Srikanth Kidambi (No 6), Saina Nehiwal (No 10), HS Prannoy (No 11)—in their ranks, India on paper starts as strong contender for medals in badminton.
“I’m in the best of shape but everyone else is also doing well. We had five different tournaments in the last couple of months and we had different winners in each. So it is important for me to be at my best going into the Asian Games,” said Kidambi.
“I have no doubt that if we just play to our potential we will be in contention for podium finish,” he said and added, “It is no doubt going to be tough with Chinese and Indonesians along with Koreans and Japanese in contention."
Indians have so far won only three Bronze medals in these games -- in 1982 (Delhi), 1986 (Seoul) and in 2014 (Incheon).
Syed Modi is the only Indian to have won a medal in the individual event 36 years ago, while Men’s and Women’s doubles pair had a podium finish in 1986 and 2014 respectively. But this time one can realistically hope for a medals in the Individual events.
For long badminton has been the preserve of China and Indonesia in these continental quadrennial Games.
Their overwhelming domination of these countries can be judged from the fact that China has so far won 101 medals, 40 of which are gold. While Indonesia has 91 medals which include 26 gold medals.
However, in this edition of the Games, India enters as a force after their very successful campaign in the Commonwealth Games in which for the first time they won 6 medals, with 2 gold, 3 silver, and 1 bronze medal, pushing favourite Malaysia behind.
It was also at Gold Coast that Sindhu and Saina created history as they set up an all-India final in the women's singles.
“There are many players who are doing well. Dan as always will be a fierce competitor. Then there is Momota and it is not going to be easy at all,” said Srikanth, who is taking part in his second regional showpiece event.
“I’m a more mature player now. I was just 21 then and a lot many things have changed. Lot many things have got redundant and have had to change my game a lot. Many things have happened after that for me – the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. Four years is a big time for any sportsperson and I want to better my performance here,” said the 25-year-old.