Gone are the days when badminton was played as a recreational game. In fact, in India, badminton has quite an interesting historical background. The sport is assumed to be an offshoot of ‘battledore and shuttlecock’, a game played by two people using small rackets called battledores and a shuttlecock that is made of a light material like cork with trimmed feathers fixed round the top. The modern version of badminton was actually developed in British India during the mid-18th century in our very own Pune. Badminton has come a long way since then. Though it may not be as glossy as cricket, the sport has churned out some powerful stars. Of course we have had some ace badminton players in India like Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand who won the All England Open in 1980 and 2001 respectively. But recently, many new players are emerging in this arena of sport. Some of the ace shuttlers who are currently ruling the roost are Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, Chetan Anand, Arundhati Pantawane and PV Sindhu.
Nehwal is a household name now. Ranked fourth in the world by the Badminton World Federation, she is the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics and the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championship. Nicknamed ‘Super Saina’, she has inspired countless young children to take up the sport. She started her training under the guidance of
SM Arif, who was once awarded with a Dronacharya. Winning the Junior Czech Open in 2003 was a major milestone in Nehwal’s career. She also gave her best in the 2004 Commonwealth Games but could not bring back a medal. Nehwal took part in the Junior Asian Championship of 2004. Later, in 2009, she made a record in Indian badminton as the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament by clinching the Indonesia Open defeating the higher-ranked Wang Lin in Jakarta. Last year, she made it to the 2011 Super Series Masters final by defeating Tine Baun of Denmark in the semi-finals. However, she lost the finals against world number one Wang Yihan in a match that lasted for over an hour. Speaking of true girl power, Nehwal is an all-rounder. She earned a brown belt in karate when she was a child, but later went on to quit the art at the age of eight, when she was asked to have a motorcycle run over her stomach. She was also voted as the third best Badminton Player of the Year 2010 by readers of an
international badminton magazine known as Badzine.
Better known as P Kashyap, he is the youngest Indian after Prakash Padukone to win a senior ranking tournament in India. Kashyap has come a long way from being the 2005 Junior National Champion to being a gold medal winner at the 2008 National Games. He also won the bronze medal at the Common Wealth Games 2010 and played a cardinal role for India after he won the silver in the Team Championships at the Common Wealth Games 2010. Later that year, Kashyap reached the semi-finals at the Indian Open Grand Prix 2010 but lost out to Arvind Bhat in the finals of the 75th Senior National Badminton Championship held at Rohtak in 2011. Just like Nehwal, Kashyap was also trained by SM Arif. He then went on to join the Padukone Academy in Banglore. Kashyap has seen some hard times after being diagnosed with asthma in 2003. He showed a great deal of determination to overcome the problem and emerged a winner! With his dedication and positive outlook, his condition improved and he continued his training at the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad under Pullela Gopichand, a former All England Open Badminton Champion.
Recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award, Chetan Anand Buradagunta is considered to be one of the the best male shuttlers in India. Anand, a fourtime
National Badminton Champion, dominated the Indian scene for long. He had a world ranking of 11 that ropped to 54 in October 2010 due to an ankle injury. He started playing at a young age with his father, who was an active badminton player. As a beginner, he participated in the Mini Nationals in Mumbai in 1992. He reached his first open nationals singles final at the age of 15 and emerged the runner-up. He won the doubles pairing with A Prithvi. He received a career boost when the legendary Padukone encouraged him to join the World Academy Camp in Kuala Lumpur to exercise his skills. Anand not only won the National
Badminton Championship but also the Toulouse Open in France in 2004 and the Irish and Scottish Open tournaments in 2005. In 2008, he won his first Grand Prix title at the Bitburger Open. Besides being one of India’s top, young badminton players, Anand also happens to be a senior executive engineer at Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC). He was also signed as the first brand ambassador for Li Ning sporting goods in India in 2009.
With her cute smile and bright eyes, Arundhati Pantawane is one of the fastest rising shuttlers in India. Recently, she broke into the top 100 in the world rankings. Pantawane jumped 19 places from 117 to achieve her maiden double-figure ranking of 98. S, like many others, has been trained at the Pullela Gopichand Academy. Pantawane played the Estonian Open where she began as a
qualifier and went on to win the silver. She won a gold medal in the National Games in Ranchi. She played the Tata Open India International Challenge in Mumbai; the Syed Modi Memorial Grand Prix Gold at Lucknow and the Senior Nationals in Bangalore. antawane’s most spectacular performance was at the Polish Open 2011, where she began as a qualifier and reached the semi-finals. With great guts and power performances, this girl has come a long way and there is no doubt that she will soon be one of the best players in the country.
P V Sindhu
Daughter of former international volleyball player and 1986 Asian Games bronze medallist P V Ramana, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu or P V Sindhu is only 16, but this girl is creating waves in the badminton world! Sindhu started playing at the age of eight and there has been no looking back! She started her formal training under the guidance of Mehboob Ali in Secunderabad and later on she went on to join Pullela Gopichand’s academy. Sindhu has an indomitable spirit, which has helped her in clinching many titles. She won the Sushant Chipalkatti Memorial
India Junior International Championship, Pune and the All India Senior Ranking Tournament, Atul. She also holds a bronze medal from the Junior Asian Championship held at Colombo in 2009. Then followed the runners-up finish at the Iran Fajr International tournament where she defeated players ranked much
higher than her. She also reached the quarter-finals of the Junior World Championship in Malaysia in 2010. Sindhu is the youngest member of the squad to have reached the quarter-finals of the Uber Cup in 2010. She won the bronze at the Indian Grand Prix, Hyderabad. Our best wishes go out to India’s young badminton stars who continue to make the country proud!
Volume 1 Issue 9