Kidambi Srikanth recommended for Khel Ratna, India’s highest sporting honour

The Badminton Association of India also recommended Sameer Verma and the duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy for the Arjuna Award.

Former world number one Indian badminton player and Olympian Kidambi Srikanth has been recommended for the Khel Ratna Award by the Badminton Association of India (BAI). The awards are decided by a committee formed by the Indian sports and youth affairs ministry.

Kidambi Srikanth had received the Arjuna Award in 2015. Khel Ratna is the highest sporting honour in the country.

All England champion Pullela Gopichand, Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu have been awarded the Khel Ratna before while 38 shuttlers have received the Arjuna Award.

After making his Olympics debut at the 2016 Rio Games, Kidambi Srikanth went on to become the first Indian to win four Super Series titles in a calendar year (2017) – Indonesia Open, Australian Open, Denmark Open and the French Open.

“Considering the talent of Srikanth and his accomplishments, we have decided to recommend his name for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award,” BAI General Secretary Ajay Singhania said.

The year 2018 saw the Guntur-born shuttler winning the team event gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and a silver medal at the individual’s event. Kidambi Srikanth followed that with another team event gold medal at the 2019 South Asian Games.

Srikanth shines at Rio 2016

Kidambi Srikanth had entered the Rio Games as the world no. 11 at the back of the Syed Modi International Badminton Championships Grand Prix title and doubles gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games

And he extended his momentum at the 2016 Olympics with wins over Lino Muñoz and Henri Hurskainen before overcoming world No. 5 Jan Ø. Jørgensen to reach the quarter-finals.

His Olympics journey was, however, cut short by Chinese legend Lin Dan in a three-game thriller.

Srikanth's tough start to 2020

Having struggled with form and fitness in the last two years, Kidambi Srikanth had an underwhelming start to the Olympic year.

Having played six BWF World Tour events this year, the 27-year-old has reached the round of 16 once, which was in the Barcelona Spain Masters in February.

Consequently, the 2016 Olympian’s chances of featuring at the Tokyo Games next year has also taken a hit.

With the BWF rankings now frozen, Kidambi Srikanth sits 22nd on the ‘Race to Tokyo’ men’s singles table with 40,469 points.

However, with the qualification period now rescheduled to next year, the power player from Pullela Gopichand's stable will have another chance to have a go for the Tokyo Games.

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