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Indian ‘celebrities’ help badminton draw even more fans, says Peter Gade

Former Danish world No 1 Peter Gade says there has been a spurt in badminton’s popularity in India

other sports Updated: Nov 04, 2017 18:27 IST
Badminton great Peter Gade interacted with the media in Mumbai on Saturday.
Badminton great Peter Gade interacted with the media in Mumbai on Saturday.(FrontzoneSport via Getty Images)

The rise of shuttlers such as Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu and Kidambi Srikanth as celebrities in Indian sports is great for the growth of badminton in the country, Denmark’s former All England champion Peter Gade said on Saturday.

“It’s very important for the sport to have celebrities, people who are performing on a high level and at the same time people know about it. That is what you are seeing now in India,” Peter Gade said during a media interaction ahead of the Mumbai leg of the Legends Vision World Tour.

“First of all we see (a) big evolution in popularity of badminton in India because of good performances in the last many years. Saina, Sindhu, Srikanth, in India, people also know a lot of about the guys sitting here (Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, Taufik Hidayat and Lee Yong-dae) — that is a very good combination… We need the broader public to know about them, not only as players but as stars.”

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India’s youth power

Chinese badminton legend Lin Dan said the rise of Indian stars has coincided with that of youngsters. “In India you see players like Saina and Srikanth, they have progressed very well. The youngsters are doing very well too,” he said, when asked about the biggest change he has observed in Indian badminton.

Peter Gade, however, didn’t agree with Srikanth’s recent assessment that Chinese domination of world badminton is over. “At the moment, in men’s singles you still have Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, players who have won very, very big titles. And then you have some younger players starting to make an impact like Srikanth. A player like (Japan’s Kento) Momota will also come,” he said.

“What we are seeing now is a more open field. In the men’s singles, it’s a transition because (of a few) players being at the top and younger players coming forward. So you are going to see a few (rivalries) forming before the Olympics and it is exciting to follow that development,” Gade, who is currently the France badminton team coach, added.

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Chinese revival

Lin Dan admitted Chinese domination is not the same anymore, but he expects that to change soon. “Currently in China, young people are getting more involved in the sport. In high schools, they have their groups and all… sooner or later it will be back to where it was – the dominance,” he said.

South Korean shuttler Lee Yong-dae too was all praise for the Indian players. “I am expecting the future of India in badminton to be very good because so many people are putting in a lot of effort. India can also win more Olympic medals in the next three to four years,” he said.