Hafiz: India’s progress in badminton is not a surprise


Young and dangerous: India’s Anmol Kharb in action against Thailand’s Pornpicha Choeikeewong during the women’s singles final match of the Asia Team Championships at the Setia Alam Convention Centre on Sunday.

PETALING JAYA: Indian women shuttlers have now joined their men counterparts as champions in the Asian region.

They were the surprise winners at this year’s Asia Team Championships in Shah Alam, following the men team’s breakthroughs at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou and the 2022 Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok.

These achievements are enough to show their rivals and Malaysia that India are now officially a world-class badminton nation.

And one of India’s coach Mohd Hafiz Hashim saw their rise as timely to spice up the competition in the world badminton.

“How did this all happen? Is it their training quality? Politics in sports? Or just the right attitude of the players,” asked Hafiz.

For Hafiz, their progress is not a surprise at all.

He believed India’s huge talent base had grown, thanks to their hunger and determination to succeed at the world level.

And in fact, he believes that India’s trust in club system as also a reason for their dynamic progress.

“At the Asia meet, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan and China had fielded better ranked players. They were the favourites but this India team, consisting seniors and juniors, truly showed their commitment on court to win every single tie,” he said.

“They are now, no doubt, one of the badminton powerhouses. I believe they are able to dominate both in men and women in future.”

On Sunday, led by senior P.V. Sindhu, the team upstaged Thailand 3-2 in the final. Besides Olympian Sindhu, their top doubles pair Treesa Jolly-Gayatri Gopichand and singles youngster Anmol Kharb delivered the points.

They had beaten Japan in the semi-finals, Hong Kong in the quarter-finals and China in the group.

“Anmol is ranked 450th in the world but won all her matches ... she showed that nothing is impossible if one puts their heart into it,” added Hafiz, who is a coach with Suchitra Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.

In fact, India’s trust in giving club players a chance to play in the international event is also commendable.

In the final, Priya Konjengbam-Shruti Mishara went down 11-21, 9-21 to Benyapa Aimsaard-Nuntakarn Aimsaard but the experience was valuable for the club players from Suchitra Badminton Academy.

“The pair won the selection for the Asia meet by virtue of winning the national title. In fact, Anmol also won the selection after winning the national singles title,” said Hafiz.

“This really pushes the clubs to produce good players as they get equal opportunity to play for the nation.”

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