As the Indian badminton squad clinched the Thomas Cup for the first time in history, fans across the world are stunned. The victory will provide much depth to the sport within the country, as team events matter much more than individual events.
Beating 14-time champions Indonesia 3-0 was a monumental feat achieved by the Indian Men’s team, 43 years after it lost to Denmark in the semi-finals. It also tells us how far the sport has come, being one of the most popular in India; and now second only to Cricket.
HISTORY SCRIPTED 🥺❤️
Pure show of grit and determination & India becomes the #ThomasCup champion for the 1️⃣st time in style, beating 14 times champions Indonesia 🇮🇩 3-0 in the finals 😎
It's coming home! 🏻#TUC2022#ThomasCup2022#ThomasUberCups#IndiaontheRise#Badminton pic.twitter.com/GQ9pQmsSvP
— BAI Media (@BAI_Media) May 15, 2022
Back in the 1990s, there was no buzz around badminton. Pullela Gopichand’s mother Subbaravamma used to call newspaper offices and television channels to give the scores of her son. Things remained the same even after Pullela Gopichand became the second Indian to win the All England Championships in 2001.
However, once Gopichand took over as the national coach, the glory around the sport surged along with the improved performance of the players. However, Gopi points out at three major incidents and personalities were responsible for the sport’s rise.
In 2004, when Sania Mirza won the WTA Hyderabad Open singles, the stadium was fully packed. the then SAAP vice-chairman LV Subramanyam realize that to popularise a sport one needs to conduct international tournaments. The same was replicated for badminton at the badminton World Championships in Hyderabad in 2009.
The second incident was Saina’s quarterfinal finish at the Beijing Olympics of 2008. Saina went on to win two commonwealth games gold and a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics. She also became world no. 1 for a week in 2015.
Meanwhile, the teenage sensation of that time PV Sindhu was already on the move. Sindhu went on to win the Olympic silver medal in 2016. She also has five World Championships in her bogey- including a gold, becoming the first world champion from India.
Credits: The Bridge
Kidambi Srikanth played his part in popularising the sport by winning four Super Series titles, a feat no Indian has achieved so far. He also became world no. 1 for a brief period. The consistent success of these shuttlers, all from Gopichand Academy changed the face of the game as thousands of academies sprung up across the nation.
After this, several other players from India emerged on the international stage. India now has many players in the top 50 from both men and women categories. The emergence of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty made doubles important as well. This was complemented by the rise of Lakshya Sen who aspires to win Olympic gold.
Many youngsters now look at badminton as a lucrative career option. The prize money has been hiked for domestic tournaments and badminton has never been so hyped up in the nation. The Government of India has also taken a lot of initiatives to diversify sports in the nation which has definitely helped Indian badminton.
References: Times of India, The Economic Times, The Hindu
Featured Image Source: TOI