Indian badminton has won a medal at the World Championships or Olympics in every year of this decade starting 2011, and has assured itself of two more at the Basel World Championships with PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth entering the semi-finals.
Scrolls of history got written at the St Jakobshalle in Roger Federer’s hometown Friday. Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponappa (2011 Worlds bronze), Saina Nehwal (2012 Olympic bronze, 2015 Worlds silver, 2017 Worlds bronze), P V Sindhu (2013, 2014 Worlds bronze, 2016 Olympic and 2017, 2018 silvers at Worlds) along with Sai Praneeth now complete India’s nine years of badminton excellence at the top-most level.
Sindhu is contending to become the greatest Indian sportswoman after she assured herself a fifth badminton World Championship medal, scoring a stunning 12-21,23-21, 21-19 over Tai Tzu Ying, the world’s trickiest player, in the quarters Friday. This includes 5 medals (2 silvers, 2 bronze and what she grabs in the next two days) in one of women’s singles most brutally demanding eras, physically and tactically.
She is only 24. The unprecedented feat — she now has half of India’s 10 World Championship medals — also puts her level with Chinese legend Zhang Ning, who too has 5 medals at the World Championships, though one of her’s is a gold. Sindhu will attempt to make her third straight finals Saturday.
Sai Praneeth ensured an Indian crossed the quarters threshold for the first time in 36 years and is guaranteed to be on the podium for the first time since 1983 when Prakash Padukone picked bronze. He became only the second men’s player after the legendary Padukone to win the Worlds medal, with 8 medals picked by Indian women.
While Sindhu has been consistently making headlines at the very top badminton events, generations of Indian men’s singles players have struggled to make the Last 4 in what has been a terrific era of men’s singles globally.