Kidambi Srikanth has won several big matches in his career but it isn’t often that the usually reserved Indian badminton ace screams in joy and smashes his racket on the badminton court in delight.
India’s Thomas Cup win this year, however, unleashed the never-before-seen jubilant side of the Hyderabadi shuttler.
“It was a little out of control,” Srikanth, who by his own admission stays calm after victories, told Olympics.com. “The energy that day from the crowd and the dugout drew that celebration out.”
India faced off against 14-time champions Indonesia in the final, a team which was unbeaten till the title decider.
After Lakshya Sen and Chirag Shetty-Satwiksairaj Rankireddy gave India a 2-0 lead, it was down to Kidambi Srikanth, a former world No. 1 and India’s captain at the Thomas Cup 2022, to wrap up the title and deny a dangerous Indonesian side a way back into the tie.
Pitted against a higher-ranked Jonatan Christie in his final fixture, Kidambi Srikanth was a picture of concentration throughout the match until the winning point was scored. And then, Srikanth let loose before being joined by his cheering teammates.
“It was a very close match that could have decided everything for Team India. I really had to win,” world No. 11 Kidambi Srikanth, who upset the 8th-ranked Christie to script a slice of Indian sporting history, said.
Kidambi won the first game 21-15 against Jonatan Christie but was pushed to his limits in the second game. Kidambi Srikanth pipped Jonatan Christie 23-21 to lead India to their maiden Thomas Cup title.
“Six months back nobody would have thought India would win Thomas Cup…Just the pressure of that match, that championship, I think got those emotions out,” Kidambi Srikanth said.
A film on India’s Thomas Cup win?
When asked if a film could be made on India’s Thomas Cup triumph, Kidambi Srikanth, a huge movie buff himself, said, “If anyone is really thinking about it, it should happen because this is a very big win for India in badminton.
“In India, no one really dreamt of winning the Thomas Cup. So I would really be happy if there was a film made on Thomas Cup.”
On a lighter note, Kidambi Srikanth also quipped that the potential filmmakers should consider the players themselves for their respective roles. “We have gone through the emotions ourselves, so I feel we should be the ones who get to play our roles.”
Srikanth also revealed that the team had received a congratulatory message from SS Rajamouli, director of the blockbuster Baahubali movies, after the historic Thomas Cup win in Thailand.
“Maybe I should bring up the idea of a possible movie to him the next time I meet him,” Srikanth smiled.
Indian team for the Commonwealth Games
Kidambi Srikanth, a world championships silver medallist, also feels that India have the right players to sweep all the badminton gold medals at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. “The players who are part of the team have the capacity to win gold medals.”
Kidambi Srikanth, though, noted that the biggest challenge for Indian players will be to maintain consistency throughout the length of the tournament.
“These big events are kind of two-week-long tournaments. So if we manage to stay consistent for around 15 days, I definitely feel we have the right team to go and win.”
While the focus this year will be on the Commonwealth Games, Srikanth admitted that his long-term goal was to win a gold medal for India at the upcoming Paris Olympics in 2024.
“I really want to do well at the Commonwealth Games and then the World Championships…But my target is to win gold at the Paris 2024,” Srikanth, who missed out on the plane for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, said.