Hyderabad, 13 Aug 2018: Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu will spearhead the Indian challenge in the badminton events of the Jakarta Asian Games while Kidambi Srikanth will lead the men’s challenge as the teams leave for Indonesia.
With a fine CWG 2018 performance coupled with the added responsibility to live up to the soaring expectations , the 20-member-strong Indian badminton squad was given a warm send-off by Badminton Association of India (BAI) at a city hotel here on Monday with the support of SportzLive.
The function was attended by the players, team officials and representative of Telangana Badminton Association including Jayesh Ranjan (IAS).
The 20-member Indian squad, which has a fine concoction of experience and youth, embarks on a journey of big medal hopes for the Jakarta Games with the men’s team challenge led by world No.8 Kidambi Srikanth and world No.13 H.S Prannoy. World No.3 P.V. Sindhu and first Olympic medallist, Saina Nehwal will be in the forefront of the contest in women category. They will be supported by CWG 2018 Silver Medallist duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in men doubles, while Gold Coast CWG Bronze medallist, Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa will shoulder India’s charge in women doubles.
With a strong focus on the Tokyo Olympics, two years hence, BAI has taken a bold step to induct six new faces in the squad for Asiad in order to prepare the next bunch of shutters.
“We have a balance of experience and youth and I am confident our shuttlers will put their best foot forward to re-write history books of Indian Badminton at the Asiad,” said BAI President and Chairman of PBL while wishing the team members good luck.
Echoing on the same lines, Chief National Coach for the Indian Badminton team Pullela Gopichand said, “We have the right firepower and the shuttlers are ready to shoulder the nation’s hopes. The players have worked hard and their preparations look positive of a confident show at the Asian Games.”
For the records, the medal count in 2014 at Incheon was a bronze in women team event; first of its kind for India since 1982. An individual medal has also eluded the Indian team since Syed Modi’s bronze in 1982 Asian Games at home.
“The traditional powerhouses like China, Japan and Korea are expected to pose challenges but we are prepared as a team and confident of a good show. Personally, I am in good form and will carry forward the confidence at the Games,” said ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu who secured her fourth medal at the World Championship.
With an Asian Games medal missing from her already brimming cupboard, the Gold Coast CWG gold medallist Saina Nehwal said that she would give her best shot at the medal. “We have a good composition and can beat the best. Individually speaking, I am 100 percent fit to perform and look forward to a podium finish,” said the London Games bronze medal winner.
Prasad Mangipudi, ED, Sportzlive the Gurgaon Sports Management company who has acquired the long-term license to execute and deliver PBL and had put together the send-off Ceremony said, “Today when Indian Badminton team enters any tournament there is an expectation of medals. In the recent past, very rarely have Indians returned empty-handed. So even for the Jakarta Asian Games, the expectations are high. So this is a small effort to tell the team that the country is with them and when they step on to the court they are being cheered by millions of passionate fans back home.”
“It is a rare opportunity for me and other youngsters as we will have the opportunity to not only rub shoulders with the senior players who have all the experience and Champions of the game. We can’t get a better exposure than this,” said Sai Uttejitha Rao, one of the six youngsters going for the Asiad for the first time.
The badminton event at the Games begin with team events on August 19 and runs through August 28. The squads, which carry the billion people’s hopes, leave for Jakarta in the wee hours of Tuesday.