Junior national champion B Sai Praneeth and H S Prannoy underlined the growing stature of India in the badminton world by reaching the semifinals of the BWF Junior World Championship in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday night.
This is the first time that India have two players in the last four. RMV Guru Sai Dutt is the other player to have made it to the semifinals at the 2008 edition in Pune.
In the women's section, Saina Nehwal is the sole Indian to lift the crown while Aparna Popat had made it to the summit clash in 1996.
This is also the first occasion in over a decade when there will be no Chinese presence in the last four stage of the boy's singles event.
Pullela Gopi Chand Academy trainees, Sai and Prannoy, had a contrasting route to the last four stage, with 5/8 seed Sai cruising past Indonesia's Riyanto Subagja 21-14, 21-10 while the unseeded Prannoy got the better of Chinese 9/16 seed Liu Kai 17-21, 21-19, 21-15.
With the performance, the shuttlers are also assured of a berth in the inaugural Youth Olympic Games to be held in Singapore in August.
Junior girls national
champion P V Sindhu also stayed in the hunt for a Youth Olympic berth despite losing to second seed Di Suo of China 13-21, 21-17, 21-15 in the quarterfinals.
“It’s a great performance for India. Sai has been showing good results but I am happy that Prannoy played to his potential,” said Gopi Chand, also the chief national coach. Air India player, Prannoy, had defeated second seed Wei Sheng Loh of Malaysia in the round of 32.