Indian Badminton Stars Shine in Paris, Eye Olympic Glory

Indian Badminton Stars Shine in Paris, Eye Olympic Glory

Paris has been a magical venue for Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, the world’s top-ranked badminton pair. They have reached the final of a BWF Super 750 or higher event for the first time in the French capital, and have won two out of three French Open finals. Their latest triumph came at the venue that will host badminton in the upcoming Olympics, making it even more special.

“It feels really sweet,” said Shetty. “Paris has always been special for us. We have always played good badminton here. It has been a second home for us.”

While they are thrilled with their victory, Rankireddy and Shetty remain focused on the Olympics, which are still six months away. They have a busy schedule ahead, including the All England Open starting on Tuesday.

In Birmingham, they will face a tough opening round against Indonesian legends Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan. With the Olympic qualification cutoff on April 28, all top pairs will be eager to perform well at this tournament, which offers the most points.

Indian fans will be eagerly following the action, as the All England Open has a rich history and legacy. Rankireddy and Shetty have a chance to add to India’s sparse success at the tournament, which includes singles triumphs by Prakash Padukone (1980) and Pullela Gopichand (2001).

PV Sindhu is also on a comeback trail, and the All England Open provides an excellent opportunity for her to raise her game. Last season was challenging for her, but she has shown signs of improvement since moving to the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy.

At the Badminton Asia Team Championships, she defeated a top 10 player, China’s Han Yue, and guided India to an unprecedented gold. Last week, she beat Canada’s Michelle Li and American Beiwen Zhang to reach her first quarter-final since October.

In the last eight, she played well against reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei, taking a game off her. Her performance showed that her mentor, Prakash Padukone, and new coach, Agus Dwi Santoso, are helping her regain her form.

HS Prannoy is all but assured of Olympic qualification, but Lakshya Sen is not. He is joint 15th in the Race to Paris rankings, but above Kidambi Srikanth and Priyanshu Rajawat. The one finishing in the top 16 by April 28 will get a shot at an Olympic medal.

The real fight for qualification is between Tanisha Crasto-Ashwini Ponnappa and Gayatri Gopichand-Treesa Jolly. Tanisha and Ashwini have broken through with superb performances after joining hands early last year, reaching five finals and winning three in 2023. They are currently ranked 11th, while Treesa and Gayatri are joint 14th. The one ranked higher will earn the Olympic spot.