The hopes of millions of Indians are pinned on a few individuals when it comes to achieving success in Badminton at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. One of such individuals has to be Srikanth Kidambi who is yet to qualify for the Summer Games scheduled this year. He has had a rough start to this year and will be looking to bring back his best game in the upcoming qualifiers which very well can result in his last shot at qualification.
Srikanth is currently placed 20th in the BWF Olympic qualification rankings and will have most likely three events to secure his ticket to Tokyo. The countdown is set to start with the upcoming Indian Open.
“Initially there were many events, just three Olympic qualifiers and I just hope that these three tournaments happen,” the former World No.1 told the Press Trust of India during an interview.
“I probably have to play a semifinal or a couple of quarterfinals. I’m actually feeling very good about my physical condition at the moment, so it is about going there and giving my best.”
The India Open which is scheduled to happen next will be played behind closed doors in New Delhi from May 11 to 16. Also, the last chance for qualifying for Tokyo would be the Singapore Open which is scheduled from June 1-6.
It was not the best start to the year for the 28-year old as he suffered a bloody nose from multiple COVID-19 tests during the Yonex Thailand Open. He ran out of luck in the Toyota Thailand Open when he was forced to withdraw from the event after his roommate B Sai Praneeth tested positive for COVID-19.
“Things are not as smooth as they were before, this bio bubble and everything are a little complicated to deal with and then with false positives happening, it becomes even more tricky,” Srikanth said.
The former World No. 1 was nowhere near his best at the World Tour Finals 2020 as he lost all three of his group stage matches. “I played three close games in the World Tour Finals. I think probably one win against a top player will give me that confidence. So I have three more tournaments to prove myself,” he said.
“I feel we have lost the freedom to train according to our timings. It’s been robbed. In the pre-COVID days, I could go to the gym when I wanted but now I have to go when I am provided a time. You cannot prepare the way we did before. But you can’t think too much about these things because you can only do what you have in your hand.”
His performances have come in patches as he reached the semifinals of the Swiss Open where he lost out against Denmark’s star shuttler Viktor Axelson. He also reached the quarterfinals at the Orleans Masters and has shown that the spark has not yet disappeared completely.
“The lockdown helped me to work on myself and I am feeling much better now physically. For me, it is about doing well in the three events. If I play in the three events I will be in the Olympics. It is not a very big ask,” he added.