In 2021, Kidambi Srikanth was playing some of the most appetizing badminton in a long time. It’s a shame that players are judged on black-and-white parameters like winning matches rather than how fascinating their matches are.
Srikanth’s dreams of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics were dashed when the Badminton World Federation declared the qualification race closed on Friday. While Saina Nehwal’s non-qualification remains the most disappointing in badminton, and Ashwini Ponnappa-Sikki Reddy had the remotest of prospects, it would be Srikanth’s absence at Tokyo that would struggle to be excused by the player’s current form.
“As such, while the qualification period officially closes 15 June 2021 as per the Revised Tokyo 2020 Qualification System, the current Race To Tokyo rankings list will not change. Invitations will be sent shortly with final participation lists and seedings to be published at the conclusion of this process,” the BWF release said.
Those in the national camp in Hyderabad witness to Srikanth practising with vigour and zeal during the previous three months, and he appears to be in good shape. Even the 28-year-old will admit that he waited too long, as major events in India, Malaysia, and Singapore were cancelled.
He has yet to win a medal at the Worlds or the Asiad despite being a former World No. 1 and perhaps India’s best. There isn’t even an Asian Championship. Five tour titles do not equal a successful career. In the last stretch of qualification, five first-round defeats, two quarterfinals, and one semifinal were never going to be enough.
Saina Nehwal, who won bronze in the London Olympics, is ranked 22 on the Road To Tokyo rankings. A player must be ranked in the top-16 by June 15. As a result, only PV Sindhu qualified for the women’s singles, while Sai Praneeth will be the lone Indian in the men’s singles.