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Home / Other Sports / Srikanth not fit enough: Ex-coach

Srikanth not fit enough: Ex-coach

Now with Olympic qualification looming, the 26-year-old Srikanth is in dire need of good results; he recently admitted that he’s a “little worried” about making the cut.

other-sports Updated: Feb 13, 2020 11:05 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
File image of Kidambi Srikanth
File image of Kidambi Srikanth (Getty Images)

Three years ago, Kidambi Srikanth and Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo struck a partnership that led the Indian shuttler to the pinnacle of badminton. In a blistering run, Srikanth reached the finals of five Superseries events in a year, winning four of them, and losing only to compatriot B Sai Praneeth, who also trained under Handoyo. Srikanth briefly became the world No.1, only the second Indian male after Prakash Padukone to achieve the feat.

But the victories dried up ever since the Indonesian, who guided the legendary Taufik Hidayat to the 2004 Athens Olympics gold, left Indian shores at the end of 2017 following a nine-month stint.

In the post-Handoyo period, the Andhra shuttler only managed to reach two finals—the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the 2019 India Open, losing both.

Now with Olympic qualification looming, the 26-year-old Srikanth is in dire need of good results; he recently admitted that he’s a “little worried” about making the cut.

While Srikanth is at a loss to explain his downfall, Handoyo, who is now the chief coach of the Singapore team, feels that a new coach could bring in better results for the Indian shuttler.

“In my opinion, Srikanth needs a respected coach,” Handoyo said from Philippines. “Anyone who can make Srikanth regain the motivation. I think he’s lacking motivation.”

Srikanth, who was the top ranked Indian for almost four years, now finds himself behind the 2019 World Championship bronze medallist Sai Praneeth, who at No 11, is the highest ranked Indian in the world right now and a favourite to attain Olympic qualification.

Currently 26th in the Race to Tokyo rankings, Srikanth needs to be in the top-16 by April 28 to qualify for the Olympics. He’ll also have to compete with friends and academy mates Sourabh Verma and Parupalli Kashyap, who are No.21 and 22 respectively in the Race to Tokyo rankings. A National Olympic Committee (NOC) can send two entries if their singles shuttlers are ranked in the top-16 of the world.

Before this week’s Badminton Asia Team Championships—where he won his opening match—Srikanth had lost the last four matches he had played, including three first rounds this year in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. In addition, a recurring knee problem has meant he had pull out of several tournaments, including the Premier Badminton League (PBL).

“I have watched him play of late. His technical skills and strategies are still good. Only his physical ability does not support him. I think physically he is not fit enough and lacks motivation,” said Handoyo, who also guided PV Sindhu to two Superseries titles and her maiden World Championship final in 2017.

In the past, Srikanth himself had admitted that had Handoyo continued, he would have delivered more results. Now with less than three months to go for the Olympic cut-off date, time may be running out for Srikanth.