At the 2022 World Championships in Tokyo, 26 players have qualified for championship play, and with some 14 support staff, this is a huge squad by any standard. It also indicates that Indian badminton is now on a wider stage.
Indian Players Outstanding Performance at the Badminton World Championships: A Comprehensive History of India
India hasn’t had a very healthy equation with the World Championships over the years. But from 2021 onwards we have started doing well. It was our great shuttler Prakash Padukone who set the shuttle rolling, so to say when he entered the semi-finals of the 1983 World Championships. He lost to Indonesian Itchuk Sugiarto who was a defensive player and managed to get a bronze medal, but we’ll come to that later.
After this, it took 30 years for PV Sindhu to claim the next medal when she also won a bronze medal in 2013 and repeated her feat in 2014 as well.
But the next men’s player who could have bagged a medal was Sai Praneeth when in Basel, Switzerland, he created history by snatching a surprising bronze in 2019, 36 years after Prakash won the medal.
Winning medals in world championships is not easy as you have to have a very strong culture and badminton presence in your country. And it takes years of top-class training before a World Championships medalist can be groomed.
During Prakash’s years of playing badminton, he was the only ranger from India to hoist the flag for the country in the harsh but sparkling world of competitive badminton. There was no coaching, no academy of any kind. He was a completely self-made shuttler who stunned the nation and indeed the world with his talent.
However, things changed very quickly for Indian badminton when Pullela Gopichand started his academy in 2008 after a little struggle. 2001 All England Champion was given a 5-acre plot by the then Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to start his own world-class academy in Hyderabad in recognition of his resounding victory at the All England. After a Titanic clash, she finally resumed training in 2008 and produced a plethora of world-class players including Saina Nehwal, who joined in 2008 and within a year she rose to World Rank 2.
After that, no one could stop Gopi. And it didn’t take long for Indian players to become strong enough to challenge the supremacy of other nations who were world powers in the game. Starting with the bronze won by Sindhu in 2013, we have now won a total of 10 medals, including the bronze won by Prakash Padukone.
At the 2022 World Championships in Tokyo, 26 players have qualified for championship play, and with some 14 support staff, this is a huge squad by any standard. It also indicates that the age of Indian badminton has arrived.
So what has been the history of Indian participation in these championships? A clear start should be the legendary shuttler from Bangalore.
Prakash Padukone, the grand old man of Indian badminton, was a giant. Growing up in Malleswaram in Bangalore, he learned and played for years in community wedding halls, which did not even have tiled floors and the sufficient height required for the game. But these obstacles did not stop him from becoming one of the best shuttlers in the world.
Beginning with a gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games, he won several titles in the world, including the All England in a blistering blitzkrieg that won him the Danish and Swedish Open titles over the course of three weeks.
The world’s top 5 ranked player over the years, as mentioned above, was ranked world No. 1 in 1980 after winning three titles. In the World Cup 1981 and 1985, he won gold and silver medals respectively.
He got a bronze in the 1981 World Games, 2 bronze medals in the Asian Games, and a silver and a bronze medal at the Asian Championships.
He won a bronze medal at the 1983 World Championships. Despite the severe pain in the heel, he forced himself to play. Prakash lost to Ichuk Sugiarto 15-9/7-15/1-15 in the semi-finals in Copenhagen.
A hugely successful shuttler, who was actually the new face of Indian badminton when she stunned the sports world by reaching the world No. 2 spot as a teenager in 2009.
She was an aggressive hustler on the court who believed she was the best in the world and treated all opponents with disdain. As far as the international titles are concerned, Saina gave a Midas touch, turning everything into gold.
But despite being such a dangerous player, Saina was single-handedly unlucky at the World Championships. She played her first WC in 2006 but lost to Jiang Yan Xiao in the first round. In the same year, she entered the final of the World Junior Championships and lost to Chinese Wang Yihan in a close match.
At the 2007 World Championships, she defeated Jeannine Cicognini of Switzerland and 13-seeded Julian Schenk of Germany in the next round, but lost in the next round to France’s Pei Hongyan in two easy games 13–21/17–21.
In 2018 she won the World Junior Championships in her own style by defeating Japanese Sayaka Sato 21-9/21-18.
2008 was an Olympic year, so there were no World Championships. In the 2009 championship, she reached the quarterfinals but lost to second seed Wang Lin. Just two months ago, Saina defeated Wang 12-21/21-18/21-9 in the final of the Indonesian Open, making her the first Indian to win a BWF Super Series title.
In 2010, she pulled out of the WC held in Paris. 2011 saw him lose 10–21/15–21 to Wang Xin in the quarterfinals. And there was no WC in 2012 because of the London Olympics.
In 2013, Saina was knocked out of another quarter-final. This time to Korean Bang Yeun Joo
21-23/9-21. She got injured in the year 2014.
And finally, after 8 exits in or before the quarter-finals, Saina finally broke the WC junkies in 2015 and reached the semi-finals. She was now finally assured of a WC medal. She was not yet completed as she faced home favorite Figtree, who overtook her, and reached the final where she lost to Carolina Marin.
Saina was the first Indian to reach the WC final. 2016 was the year of the Rio Olympics.
Saina was seeded 12 in the 2017 World Cup in Glasgow. She defeated Sabrina Jowett in the first round and then knocked out second seed Sung Ji Hyun of Korea.
She then defeated Christie Gilmour of Scotland in the pre-quarterfinals but lost to Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the last 8.
In the 2018 WC, Saina actually made it to the semi-finals after beating Thailand’s Fatal Ratchanok but was again stopped here by Carolina Marin.
The last event was the 2019 WC which she lost to Mia Blichfeld in a hard-fought 21-15/25-27/12-21.
PV Sindhu has been the most efficient player ever for India in the World Championships.
Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medalist, has won a record five medals in the World Cup. These include two bronze, two silver, and that solitary and much-awaited gold medal in 2019.
She received her first medal, bronze in 2013. At only 18 years old this precocious teenager beat some great players. The 10th seed she easily overcame Japan’s Kaori Imabeppu for the first time and took on defending champion Wang Yihan of China. She won a memorable 21-19, 23-21 in 54 minutes of blazing badminton. Sindhu then took on another top Chinese shuttler Wang Shijian and won 21-18/21-17 and won the bronze medal in her next match losing to Ratchanok Intanon.
In the 2014 WC in Denmark, Sindhu created history of sorts when she received back-to-back WC medals. She was seeded seventh and faced Korea’s Bang Hyun Joo in the 16th round. In a tough bout, she managed to knock out the opponent 19-21/22-20/25-23. Sindhu then defeated old friend Wang Shijian 19-21, 21-15/21-15 to win the bronze medal.
Sindhu became the first Indian to win two medals at the World Cup.
In 2015, Sindhu defeated a new and fast-rising star from China, Li Zurian, who was seeded 3 in the championship, in the round of 16. He was then pitched to play against Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, a stick of dynamite. player. Korea stopped Sindhu in the quarterfinals.
2016 was the year of the Rio Olympics, so there was no World Championship that year.
Talking about the year 2017, there was big good news for Sindhu she was appointed as a deputy. Collector by the Government of Andhra Pradesh. In the office of the Chief Commissioner of Land Administration in Krishna District.
In badminton, she made some amazing performances. In the 2017 WC, she was seeded 4 and in the round of 32, she defeated Korean Kim Hyo Min. The next round was a three-game affair against Hong Kong shuttler Cheung Ngan Yi. In the next two rounds, it won straight games against Sun Yu and Chinese Chen Yufei and entered their first World Cup final. Here she lost a very close 19-21/22-20/20-22 against Naomi Okhuhara in the 110-minute marathon and had to settle for silver.
But her time was to come and in the 2018 WC, she was in great form the entire time and delivered a commanding performance with a really aggressive finish till the final, where she actually lost 18-21/10-21 to Spanish talent Carolina Marin. , However, in the first round, she played very well, defeating defending champion Naomi Okuhara 21–17/21–19 in absolute form.
Now it was 2019 and someone wondered if she would be able to win the title in WC.
She had already won four medals. Was she hungry for another and what color would the medal be?
After going as the 5th seed, she knocked out Pi Yu Po and Beiwan Zhang in the opening round. In the quarter-finals, Sindhu registered a stunning 12-21/23-21/21-19 win against seed 2, Tai Tzu Ying in the first game.
In the semi-finals, she defeated third seed Chen Yu Fei of China 21–7/21–14 to set up another bout against old rival Naomi Okuhara.
Sindhu was in fine form as she defeated the Japanese star 21-7/21-7 to win the gold medal. It was a flawless display of aggressive but controlled badminton.
In a way, Sai Praneeth was an exceptional player, but he never reached his full potential.
An inherently deceptive shuttler who plays disguised shots to fool the opponent.
In 20013, at the Thailand Open, he defeated the All-England champion, Mohamed Hashim of Malaysia, that year. He then defeated Taufeeq Hidayat 15-21/21-12/21-17 in the first round of the 2013 Indonesian Open, and in 2016 across England he defeated Lee Chong Wei 24-22/22-20.
Sai Praneeth also played a rare game when he defeated Lin Dan and another Chinese, Chen Hong.
In fact, he must be one of the only players to defeat all three legends of modern-day badminton Lin Dan, Tawfik Hidayat, and the cunning Lee Chong Wei.
The problem with Sai Praneeth was that he was not in tune with his badminton.
As far as WC is concerned, he won a bronze medal in Basel in 2019. He lost in the semi-finals to Kento Mamota, who won the title. And it was the only WC he was eligible to participate in.
He also had two bronze medals in the Asian Team Championships and a gold medal in the SAARC Games.
The downy fighter made history at the 2021 WC in Spain when he defeated compatriot Lakshya Sen in one of the most engaging matches ever seen in any WC in the pages of history to reach the final.
In April of the same year, he was ranked world No.
Lakshya is the prodigal son of Indian badminton. He has had a great season so far this year, till he won the India Open, reached the finals of the German Open, and all over England.
He defeated Viktor Axelsen at the German Open. And in his debut at the World Cup, he won a bronze medal A rare feat.
Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, the best doubles pairing of the Distaff side produced by India, won the gold medal at the CWG 2010, followed by the silver medal at the CWG 2014.
The pair, ranked 6th in the world, won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Cup.
The duo defeated 12th seed Vita Marisa/Nadya Melati 17-21/21-10/21-17 to advance to the semi-finals, where they lost to China’s Tian Wing/Zhou Yunlan of 5th seeded bronze medalist.
In the first round, she defeated Hong Kong’s Poon Lok Yan / Tse Ying Suet 19-21/21-17/21-19.
In the very next round, the Indian pair defeated second seed Chan Won Hing/Chien Ho 21-18/21-10.
Jwala and Ashwini were the first Indians to win a medal in doubles.
Four players out of 26 entries in the World Cup for India have made it to the men’s singles. These are Kidambi Srikanth, Lakshya Sen, Sai Praneeth, and the ever-dependable HS Prannoy.
The women’s singles will see two entries Saina and Sindhu. And surprisingly, ten pairs have made it to the main draw. Who would have thought just 3-4 years ago that so many Indians would qualify for these championships?