Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal given recent hope following BWF’s extension of Tokyo Olympics qualification race

Kidambi Srikanth, Saina Nehwal given recent hope following BWF’s extension of Tokyo Olympics qualification race

In a considerably perverse method, the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic has given each Indian shuttlers a brand new lease of life, because the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has seen match to increase the date of qualification for the Tokyo Video games to fifteen June 2021.

There’s recent hope that India’s high shuttlers, Kidambi Srikanth and Saina Nehwal, could possibly be enjoying of their second and fourth Olympics, respectively – though the latter’s hopes proceed to hold by a thread.

In a considerably perverse method, the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic has given each Indian shuttlers a brand new lease of life, because the Badminton World Federation (BWF) has seen match to increase the date of qualification for the Tokyo Video games to fifteen June 2021.

The world physique had been compelled to droop the circuit from 16 March 2020, on the conclusion of the All England Championships, to cancel all Olympic qualification occasions and to freeze all rankings. The Olympic qualification cycle will now resume with a quartet of tournaments in Europe – the Swiss Open from 2-7 March, the German Open from 9-14 March, the All England from 17-21 March, and the Orleans Masters in France from 23-28 March.

Altogether, there might be 19 tournaments carrying rating factors in direction of Olympics qualification, with the utmost factors being accessible on the All England, the place Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Chinese language Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying would be the defending champions. The opposite huge tournaments would be the India Open Tremendous 500 (11-16 Might), Malaysia Open Tremendous 750 (25-30 Might) and Singapore Open Tremendous 500 (1-6 June).

The next is the calendar of Olympic qualification occasions over the following 4 months, below the heads Event identify, World Tour classification, prize cash supplied, location and dates:

1. Swiss Open Tremendous 300 ($140,000 prize cash, Basel, 3-7 March)

2. German Open Tremendous 300 ($140,000, Mulheim, 9-14 March)

3. All England Open Tremendous 1000 ($850,000, Birmingham, 17-21 March)

4. Orleans Masters Tremendous 100 ($90,000, Orleans, France, 23-28 March)

5. Malaysia Masters Tremendous 500 ($400,000, Kuala Lumpur, 6-11 April)

6. Badminton Asia ($400,000, China TBC, 27 April-2 Might)

7. India Open Tremendous 500 ($400,000, New Delhi, 11-16 Might)

8. Spain Masters Tremendous 300 ($200,000, Spain TBC, 18-23 Might)

9. Malaysia Open Tremendous 750 ($750,000, Kuala Lumpur, 25-30 Might)

10. Singapore Open Tremendous 500 ($320,000, Singapore, 1-6 June)

* TBC: Location to be confirmed

The world rankings are being re-opened from the Swiss Open, within the first week of March. “Qualification for the Olympics will now be decided from the Race to Tokyo Rankings printed on 15 June 2021. This record may even be used for seedings within the Tokyo Olympic Video games,” BWF mentioned in a press release.

“The main target has been to determine cluster tournaments the place potential, just like what we did for the Asian Leg in January in Thailand. We count on to stage a variety of tournaments this fashion to make sure a extra possible match programme for the remainder of 2021,” mentioned BWF secretary common Thomas Lund.

“The COVID-19 state of affairs continues to supply a difficult setting wherein to run worldwide tournaments, and though the hope is that the COVID-19 vaccine could in time create a world with fewer restrictions, BWF expects that the pandemic will nonetheless affect match internet hosting all through the entire of 2021.”

The welcome return to type of Srikanth in the midst of the three tournaments held in Bangkok within the second half of January 2021 offers rise to hope that he may enhance his present twenty second place within the BWF rankings, and barge into the highest 16 by the deadline. If he does, and B Sai Praneeth maintains his thirteenth place, or at the least stays inside the high 16, India may have two representatives within the Tokyo Olympics males’s singles.

Srikanth performed three group matches on successive days on the World Tour finals, and acquitted himself creditably in all three, with out having a win in his ledger. The Indian misplaced at 21-15, 16-21, 18-21 in 77 minutes to 3rd seed and 2019 World Championship runner-up, Anders Antonsen of Denmark; was crushed at 21-19, 9-21, 19-21 after 78 minutes to Wang Tzu Wei of Chinese language Taipei; and misplaced at 21-12, 18-21, 19-21 in an hour and 5 minutes to Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Lengthy Angus.

One widespread thread ran via all his three performances – a storming begin and the seize of the opening sport, a regrettable lack of velocity, energy and focus within the second stanza, and a propensity to have the decider below management, however the lack of ability to shut out the matches, even when he appeared to have his opponent on the mat. Nevertheless, he didn’t appear to lack on the stamina entrance, and appeared match sufficient to play prolonged encounters going over the hour mark.

Srikanth will resume his quest for a spot within the Olympic draw with 40,469 factors, almost 8,000 factors adrift of Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke (48,310), who presently occupies the sixteenth place on the charts. Sai Praneeth (51,527) is at the moment the main Indian participant – within the thirteenth spot, and greater than 11,000 factors away from his Gopichand Academy batch-mate. India is assured one spot within the draw, and might solely get in a second participant if that worthy can end within the high 16 by the deadline.

What Srikanth must do is to play as many tournaments as he can earlier than 15 June, and to constantly make at the least the quarter-finals in all these competitions. Semi-final placings within the ‘biggies’ just like the All England and Malaysia Open would permit him to shut the hole between him and the sixteenth to twenty first positions – Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto (46,243 factors), Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu (46,180), the just-retired Jan O. Jorgensen of Denmark (43,674), Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto (41,550) and China’s Huang Yu Xiang (40,800).

Hong Kong’s Lee has a powerful likelihood of being his nation’s second participant, behind Ng Ka Lengthy Angus, to make the Olympic males’s singles draw. Nevertheless, the opposite 4 gamers on the periphery of the top-16 can’t make it as a result of their respective nations have already got two gamers in a lot larger positions within the elite 16.

The catch right here is that Srikanth can’t reap the benefits of the ‘technical elimination’ of those 4 gamers, and declare an ‘mechanically’ improved place within the rankings by 4 rungs. He has to garner ample factors to make the top-16 grade on his personal steam, else another lower-ranked participant from one other nation might be given the Olympic berth.

South Korea’s Heo Kwang Hee (37,807), at the moment sitting on the thirty first place within the rankings, falls on this class, being assured of a quota spot because the highest-ranked Korean participant on the world circuit. Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew (34,024) from the thirty third place additionally qualifies mechanically on the identical criterion, as does Mark Caljouw of The Netherlands (33,639) from the thirty sixth spot.

On present type, Srikanth has an opportunity of bettering his factors tally considerably, however he additionally must control the opposite gamers who would take part within the qualification tournaments no matter the truth that they can’t advantage a spot within the Olympic draw. It’s a powerful ask, however certainly not inconceivable.

For Saina, although, the duty of creating the top-16 assumes imposing proportions; and her latest type doesn’t encourage confidence that she will make up ample leeway to affix PV Sindhu within the Olympic ladies’s singles draw. Coincidentally, like Srikanth, the three-time Olympian sits on the twenty second berth within the rankings, with a tally of 41,847 factors, and can’t presumably dream of displacing compatriot Sindhu (seventh place within the rankings, with 70,754 factors) for India’s quota spot.

Simply above Saina, within the positions seventeenth to twenty first, are: Beiwen Zhang of the US (48,160), Japan’s Aya Ohori (46,059), Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt (45,211), Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung (45,200)and Thailand’s Nitchaon Jindapol (43,320). Three of those gamers, barring Ohori and Jindapol, have been in a position to seize their respective nation’s quota locations.

Kidambi Srikanth Saina Nehwal given fresh hope following BWFs extension of Tokyo Olympics qualification race

File picture of Saina Nehwal. AFP

The 2 who’re within the fifteenth and sixteenth spots within the BWF lists, Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun (49,410) and Thailand’s Pornpawee Chochuwong (49,176), may effectively miss out regardless of being within the top-16, as a result of two of their fellow-countrywomen every are ranked larger than them – An Se Younger (eighth) and Kim Ga Eun (14th) from Korea; and Ratchanok Intanon and Busanan Ongbamrungphan from Thailand.

So excessive is the extent of competitors among the many ladies, and so constant have the highest seven been in reaching at the least the quarter-finals of the tournaments wherein they’ve participated, that they’ve opened up an enormous hole between them and the remainder of the sector. Greater than 6,000 factors separate Sindhu from the eighth-ranked An Se Younger, with the remainder of the competitors trailing additional behind.

For Saina to make up the leeway, she wants at the least two semi-final finishes within the lesser tournaments, and a few quarter-finals within the World Tour tournaments above the Tremendous 750 degree. With some a lot youthful competitors exhibiting her a clear set of heels, and in a state of affairs the place one other just lately married arch-rival like Sung Ji Hyun is struggling to overhaul her compatriot Kim Ga Eun to seal her spot within the Olympic draw, the soon-to-be-31 yr previous has her work minimize out for her.

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