Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth clinched a silver at the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Championship finals played at Palacio de los Deportes Carolina Marín in Huelva, Spain, on 19 December 2021.
Competing against Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew, Srikanth went down in straight sets in a match that lasted 43 minutes.
Twenty-eight-year-old Srikanth took an early lead in his encounter with Yew but could not keep the momentum, and the Singaporean won the first set 21-15.
Loh, who is four years younger to the 12th ranked Indian shuttler, finished the match in the second set, defeating Srikanth 22-10.
The comeback of Kidambi Srikanth and a look at the championships
A major tournament for Indian shuttlers
The gold may have eluded Srikanth, but he became the first Indian male badminton player to secure silver at the World Championship. Previously, only three Indian shuttlers have won a medal at the event. These include Prakash Padukone, B Sai Praneeth and Lakshya Sen — all of whom won bronze.
In the semi-finals, Srikanth became the first Indian man to enter the final of the tournament when he defeated compatriot Lakshya Sen 17-2, 21-14, 21-18. Thus, 20-year-old Sen became the youngest Indian to win a medal at the World Championship with the bronze.
Srikanth had his last major win in 2017, suffering a setback in form over the years because of injuries. The silver marks a powerful return for the badminton player who has long been seen as one of the best India has produced.
Ranked 22 and unseeded in the tournament, Loh is the first Singaporean to win the BWF World Championship title.
He has been in exceptional form throughout the tournament. On his way to the gold, he defeated world number 3 Danish shuttler Anders Antonsen 23-21, 21-14 in the semi-final. Earlier in the tournament, he beat world number 1 and reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
The Malaysia-born Loh has recently won his first career BWF World Tour Super 500 title at the Hylo Open in November and the Dutch Open in October.
Congratulations pour in
Srikanth received congratulatory messages from Indian leaders and icons.
“Congratulations to Kidambi Srikanth for scripting history by becoming the first male player from India to bag a Silver medal at BWF World Championships final 2021. My best wishes for his future endeavours!” tweeted Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu.
Congratulations to Kidambi Srikanth for scripting history by becoming the first male player from India to bag a Silver medal at BWF World Championships final 2021. My best wishes for his future endeavours! @srikidambi #BWFWorldChampionships2021
— Vice President of India (@VPSecretariat) December 20, 2021
“Proud of you, @srikidambi & @lakshya_sen on winning the Silver Medal��� & Bronze Medal ��� respectively at #BWFWorldChampionships at Huelva. Congratulations and wishing you two the very best! It’s great to have 2 shuttlers from India ������ on the podium,” tweeted legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Proud of you, @srikidambi & @lakshya_sen on winning the Silver Medal🥈 & Bronze Medal 🥉 respectively at #BWFWorldChampionships at Huelva.
Congratulations and wishing you two the very best!
It’s great to have 2 shuttlers from India 🇮🇳 on the podium. pic.twitter.com/ZlHLkqCmmv
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) December 19, 2021
(Main and Featured images: (L to R) Kidambi with his silver, gold medalist Loh, and bronze medalists Antonsen and Sen pose on the podium in Huelva on 19 December 2021. Jose Jordan/AFP)