The most prestigious Badminton tournament, the Yonex BWF World Championships 2010 starts today in Paris as world’s best shuttlers begin their quest to become World Champions. The tournament will feature 400 of the world’s top players representing 5 continents, competing in 5 categories: Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles for the next 6 days. The World Championships which were first held in 1977 and once every two years have since 2003 become an annual event. It is held every year, except the Olympics Years, where the winner of the Olympics is considered the world Champion for that year.

All Indian eyes will be on India’s sensation and World No 2 Saina Nehwal as she tries to land India first ever medal at the Championships. Saina Nehwal has been on a roll in 2010, winning 3 consecutive international titles, including 2 Super Series titles at Singapore and Indonesia. The Super Series titles are roughly equivalent to Grand Slams in tennis. These superb performances at the Super Series events have catapulted her to No 1 position in the BWF Super Series Rankings, rankings which only consider performances in Super Series events (there are 6 of them held in a year). This Hyderabadi girl’s rise in Badminton has been one of India’s proud moments in the world of sports. From picking up the raquet in 1998, ranked 198 in 2004 and now ranked 2nd, it has been a wonderful story of hard work, commitment and the desire to reach the top. India’s badminton legend Pullela Gopichand has been a major force behind Saina’s emergence too after he took over her charge in 2004.

Saina Nehwal has her sights on the World title and her comments truly reflect her focus:

“I reiterate world rankings too don’t matter. Personally, I would love to be the world champion and still be World No. 2 rather than being World No. 1 and not be the champion. I cannot say one player or another is a major threat for me. This is a championship where anything can happen. Hopefully, with the best wishes of my parents (Dr. Harvir Singh and Usha Rani) and all the well-wishers, I am looking for a special performance.”

The World Championships have been traditionally dominated by China and Indonesia, who have won 43 and 18 Gold medals respectively since the Championships started in 1977. Things are unlikely to change much as they remain the countries to beat in Badminton. China’s overwhelming record in Women’s Singles (winning the title 13 out of the 17 times) tells a story. From 2001 to 2009, China has won the Women’s Singles event every time. Can Saina Nehwal, seeded 2nd behind Chinese Wang Yihan stop the juggernaut and put an end to China’s stranglehold on Women’s Badminton? Well, Saina definitely has the firepower to do so.

There are other Indian players too at the Championships, namely Aditi Mutatkar (Women’s Singles), Diju V and Jwala Gutta (Mixed Doubles), Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (Women’s Doubles), Kashyap P, Chetan Anand (Men’s Singles) While nothing substantial is expected from these players, they would do well to put up some respectable performances and come back home with their heads held high.

India’s medal hopes rest almost entirely on 20 year old Saina Nehwal. Let us all hope for the best. Maybe, we could have a World Champion receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award on 29th August.

Categories: General
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