Olympic hopes PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal set to resume training

While the state government has decided to allow the resumption of training, SAI has recommended only Olympic probables to hit the court.

By Subhayan Dutta

Indian badminton stars PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, along with other Olympic hopefuls, could hit the courts as early as this week at Pullela Gopichand’s academy in Hyderabad.

This is after the Telangana government decided to allow the resumption of training in the state from August 5.

Ever since the Badminton World Federation (BWF) suspended its calendar and froze the rankings following the All England Open Championship in March, badminton players around the world have been keeping themselves fit and busy in their homes.

With the Indian government now systematically easing the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has named eight shuttlers who could restart training.

The are: PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, B Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponnappa, and Sikki Reddy.

"As per the SAI guidelines we have to start only with these eight Olympic probables,” Pullela Gopichand told the Times of India.

“Maybe a little while later we will think about expanding the training," he added.

The decision was taken after Telangana sports minister V Srinivas Goud met Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza, shuttlers N Sikki Reddy, Sai Praneeth, and B Sumeeth Reddy, and other top sports stars from the state.

PV Sindhu won the inaugural edition of the BWF World Tour Finals in 2018.

Where India’s Olympic hopefuls stand

The highest on BWF’s Race to Tokyo rankings and well within the direct qualification range (top 16) is India’s No. 1 badminton player PV Sindhu.

The 2016 Olympic silver medallist sits seventh on the Olympic rankings list for women.

Fellow Olympic medallist Saina Nehwal will have to work hard to make the cut as she is 22nd on the list.

B Sai Praneeth holds the highest spot among India’s male shuttlers -- he is13th -- while former world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth too faces an uphill task as he is ranked 22nd.

India’s emerging double duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have a clear qualification chance with their ninth position on the table. The women doubles duo of Ashwini Ponnappa and N Sikki Reddy are 28th.

The Indian shuttlers, though, are not looking to compete anytime soon with numerous BWF events cancelled in recent months.

After the first badminton qualification window for the Tokyo Olympics was held from April 29, 2019, to March 15, 2020, Indian shuttlers will get their next chance from January 4, 2021, to May 2, 2021.