Superstar shuttler Kidambi Srikanth decodes the road to silver

โ€œI kept believing in myself even through the tough times. And I can say the best is yet to come. I can do much better,โ€ said shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, who won a historic menโ€™s singles silver medal in the World Championship in Spain on Sunday.

โ€œI will keep my head down, work even harder and look forward to winning titles,โ€ Srikanth said in his first media interaction after landing in India on Tuesday.

โ€œI am happy and feeling great with my performance in the World Championship. And, this I consider is the best phase of my career, better than the dream run I had in 2017 when I had won four Super Series titles (which eventually also saw him be the World No.1),” the champion shuttler said.

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โ€œAfter all the disappointments, including missing the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this silver medal is special. The best part being I was overall aggressive right through. I entered the Worlds after semifinal performances in the Indonesian Open and the German Opens. And, I was the highest-ranked Indian (at No. 14) in the world,โ€ Srikanth explained to make a point.

โ€œThe injury phase is over, but the focus right now will be to keep improving as the year ahead has a packed schedule with the India Open in January, then the All England, the World Championship and the Asian Games. There is no time even to celebrate this silver,โ€ he said with a smile.

โ€œI will speak to Gopiย annaย (chief national coach P. Gopichand) and work out a schedule accordingly to keep winning major events,โ€ he added.

โ€œNot many are aware how difficult it was for me in the last few years, sometimes for reasons beyond my control. When I was feeling better and confident, the pandemic disrupted the tournament schedule worldwide. Seven Olympic qualifying tournaments were cancelled, which dented my chances to make it to Tokyo Games,โ€ he said.

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On the final, Srikanth recalled it was not an easy loss. โ€œI had my chances the scoreline read 18, but Loh Kean Yew played better in the final moments,โ€ he said.

โ€œI donโ€™t think the tough semifinal against Lakshya Sen had a bearing on the final. In big events, these are common. I repeat it all boils down to how well you play in the one hour on the given day irrespective of all the training preceding the match day,โ€ Srikanth explained.

โ€œI expected the kind of game Lakshya played against me. He looked really good and along with Priyanshu, he is among the future bets for Indian menโ€™s badminton,โ€ he said.

Srikanth looked perplexed when a reporter asked if he had plans to leave Gopi Academy like a few big names had done in the past. โ€œName the players who have done that. Anyhow, I am here (at Gopi Academy) and will continue to keep winning more titles,โ€ he concluded.

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