A happy-go-lucky, playful teenager who loved to play pranks has become the first Indian male to scale the peak of world badminton.
Kidambi Srikanth was admitted to the Gopichand Academy only because his brother Nandagopal was already there. The parents requested Gopi to take Srikanth too under his wings as he wasn’t doing anything worthwhile at home.
Gopi first made him play doubles and showed little interest in the teen as he appeared to be a bit careless. But once he identified the sharp hitting capabilities of Srikanth, Gopi shifted him to singles. Thereafter, Srikanth never looked back.
“He was a fun loving, playful, mischievous youngster. I first put him in doubles and I happened to observe his play during a match and was immediately impressed with it,” Gopichand said of his protege.
“The way he was executing certain strokes caught me by surprise. He was doing well in doubles but I shifted him to singles. He is a very good pupil who completely trusts the coach. Whatever I tell him he just follows and never questions.”
Srikanth, incidentally, drew inspiration from Gopichand’s All England victory in 2001. At a function organised in Guntur to felicitate Gopichand, eight-year-old Srikanth eagerly watched the proceedings and had a picture clicked with his idol. And now Srikanth has surpassed his guru, who could only climb as high as World No. 4.
“It gives immense satisfaction if a boy you train surpasses your expectations and achievements. I am proud of him,” Gopi said.
Srikanth, along with his elder brother Nandagopal, learnt the nuances of the game under Sudhakar Reddy in Visakhapatnam. Later, Nandagopal shifted to Gopi’s academy and was followed by Srikanth. Srikanth’s father KVS Krishna said that he never expected his son to reach such great heights.
“I never thought he would achieve so much. I only made him play badminton because it could help him get a small government job.
“It’s all credit to his coach Gopichand who did so much for him. Now I want my son to achieve more, bring laurels to the country and win Olympic medals,” Krishna said.
Badminton Association of India (BAI) President Himanta Biswa Sarma said: “It is a great thing for Indian badminton as a whole and I believe Srikanth’s wonderful achievement will motivate other players to perform well and aim to go up higher on the rankings.”
Originally Published In The Times Of India
News credit : Indiatimes