Chirag-Satwik Indian badminton’s first family
After making history, it is easy to get carried away. But they are always mindful of their bigger dream—an Olympic medal.
India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are in the winners’ circle. They have elevated themselves from being just a pair of good players to a new level that’s seen them winning more titles and climbing the ranking table with great panache. After the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and since the Birmingham Commonwealth Games gold, they are raiding the proverbial Eldorado of titles more regularly.
Their talent was never in question. The two showed immense potential ever since they joined hands in 2016. However, they were competing in a largely overlooked category in India because of average performances in the past. That meant they didn’t have a reference point and always had to be extra special to get noticed. One tournament after another, they did just that. Their self-belief kept growing, and so did the number of special wins.
Under the circumstances, the Indonesian Open success (a BWF World Tour Super 1000-level event) on Sunday, where they beat the world champions—Malaysian pair Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik—is equivalent to a Grand Slam in tennis. It was a title long overdue, given their rising stature. Something that was cut, marinated and pickled to perfection. The Indians have now won as many as six titles on Tour.
Ever since the pandemic, the two have been digging deep behind the scenes, and their association with Mathias Boe was the real game-changer. Boe, a former Olympic medallist from Denmark, was initially offered short-term contracts.
After much-prolonged deliberation and at the players’ request, the Sports Authority of India and chief national coach P Gopichand agreed to sign on the dotted lines in 2022. Under Boe’s guidance, the doubles duo have evolved and become more rounded players. While the search for a foreign coach is still on in the singles category, they are now a well-settled unit and can focus purely on the sport and devise well-thought-out plans (something that is key given shuttlers play week in, week out). What has also helped them grow is their hunger to keep learning. After making history, it is easy to get carried away. But they are always mindful of their bigger dream—an Olympic medal. Soon after the win on Sunday, Satwik was already thinking about his next match. That hunger and drive must remain intact, with many more crucial events lined up including the Asian Games and the Olympics next year.