P V Sindhu scaled new heights but it was K Srikanth who took Indian badminton by storm with a higher title count as male shuttlers finally came out of the shadows in a season of unprecedented success for the sport.
It was a year when the national anthem played quite frequently at stadia across the globe as either Sindhu or Srikanth stood on the podium in a series of elite badminton tournaments.
If Sindhu cemented her place among the world’s very best with three titles and three silvers, Srikanth exceeded all expectations with four titles and a runners-up finish to join the big league in a truly remarkable season.
The appointment of Indonesia’s Mulyo Handoyo, best known for coaching Taufik Hidayat, gave a massive impetus to Indian badminton, which also also saw a change of guard at the association with Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma becoming the president following the sudden demise of Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta.
Among all the postcard moments this year, Sindhu’s exhausted frame after innumerable energy-sapping matches is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. Her triumphs were not just a reflection of talent but also the sheer determination of the 22-year-old.
The World Championship’s 110-minute epic final against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara had fans on the edge of their seats. And the summit clashes at Korea Open and the Dubai Super Series Final were as emotionally draining if not more.
Though the teh Hyderabadi had to endure three painful final losses — World Championship, Hong Kong Open and Dubai Super Series Finals –, she also enjoyed the high of clinching Super Series titles at the India Open and Korea Open, besides the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold.
On the other hand, Srikanth’s ability to peak in successive weeks twice in a year made him the first Indian to win four titles in a season, a feat only achieved by the iconic Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei and Chen Long.
After recovering from an ankle injury that nearly kept him out of action for four months last year, the 24-year-old from Guntur hit a purple patch in April as he reached three successive finals at Singapore, Indonesia and Australia