PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikanth lead Indian charge at badminton season finale in Dubai

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Great year: For PV Sindhu.

India has its best chance yet of scooping the men’s and women’s Singles titles next week at the Dubai World Superseries Finals, with Kidambi Srikanth and Pusarla V Sindhu arriving to the Emirates on a high after posting some exceptional results throughout the year.

Only the top eight ranked players qualify for the prestigious season-ending event, which will be held in Dubai for the last time this year at the Hamdan Sports Complex from December 13-17.

Srikanth and Sindhu will get to Dubai brimming with confidence after also being named last week as Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year at the Indian Sports Honours.

Srikanth had an outstanding season, becoming the only Indian and only the fourth player to have won four Superseries titles in a year, while Sindhu won two titles and the silver medal at the World Championships.

Srikanth posted early season victories in the BCA Indonesian Open and the Crown Group Australian Open, and had hoped to carry this form into the World Championships in Glasgow in August. Disappointingly, though, he was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Korea’s Son Won Ho.

He overcame the setback though and rallied to take the Danisa Denmark Open and the Yonex French Open, his performances equalling the record of four titles in one season held by Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan and Chen Long.

Soaring Srikanth.

Soaring Srikanth.

He was also runner-up in the OUE Singapore Open, and made it to the quarter-finals in two other events. His efforts saw him reach a career-high world ranking of No. 2 in November, and finish second in the Destination Dubai Rankings, just behind Son Won Ho. Despite not winning a title Son had a consistently good season and just managed to overtake Srikanth on the point-score in the last event.

Meanwhile India’s new golden girl Sindhu got her season off to a good start, winning her home title, the Yonex Sunrise India Open, by defeating her rival Carolina Marin in a rematch of the epic Olympic final which saw Marin take the gold.

The 22-year-old Sindhu went on to take her second major career silver medal at the World Championships in Glasgow, where she went down to Nozomi Okuhara in the final, despite holding two match points.

She returned to winning form in the Victor Korea Open in September, before finishing runner-up to defending champion Tai Tzu Ying in the final qualification event, the Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong open in November.

But neither Srikanth nor Sindhu will have an easy run to the finals, with Srikanth up against Olympic champion Chen Long, as well as legend Lee Chong Wei and world champion and Dubai defending champion Victor Axelsen in a star-studded field.

Sindhu’s run may be a little easier with the withdrawal through injury of the two players who have denied her gold at the Olympics and World Championships – Marin and Okuhara. But she will still have to contend with defending champion and world No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, who collected a staggering five Superseries titles this year, as well as Japan’s powerhouse Akane Yamaguchi and Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon.

The competition is also set to feature a brilliant line-up of top pairs across all men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles disciplines, with matches in all categories commencing on Wednesday December 13.

Tickets are on sale at https://dubai.platinumlist.net/.

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Latheesh secures Under-13 crown at India Club UAE Tournament

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Champion: Bharath Latheesh.

Bharath Latheesh was crowned champion in the boys’ singles Under-11 category in the ongoing India Club UAE Open Badminton tournament.

Latheesh shrugged off a determined challenge from Aman Sengupta to prevail in two straight game 21-16, 21-17. In the boys’ singles Under-13, a couple of semifinalists were determined.

In the first quarter-final, Stefan Binu beat Ryan George 21-19, 21-15, while Latheesh progressed to the semis in the higher age category by beating Hiraan Rasi 21-5, 21-16. In the solitary girls’ singles U11 match, Madhumitha Sundarapandian got the better of Shreya Binesh 21-9, 21-13.

Several matches were played in the girls’ singles U13 category with only Irene Elsa Alexander stretched to three games by Mishti Bradoo.

Elsa lost the first game 14- 21, but stormed back to win the next two 21-10, 21-8. In other matches, Ranitha Rajith defeated Rishitha Rajith 21- 10, 21-12, while Devika Pillai beat Nayonika Rajesh 21-19, 21-18 in a well-fought encounter.

Nidhi Desai did not face much trouble against Sparsha Shetty, winning 21-6, 21-1 in a canter.

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Badminton proves a hit on UAE School Olympics debut

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The medal winners.

Badminton joined a select group of sports when it made a successful debut at the Finals of the fifth UAE School Olympics last week, with 173 players (89 boys and 84 girls) contesting the Under 11, Under 13 and Under 15 categories.

In October last year it was announced that badminton would be the first racquet sport to be included in the School Olympics, joining athletics, swimming, judo, taekwondo, fencing, archery, shooting, and jiu-jitsu.

Following the announcement, Shuttle Time Dubai, which has been operating in Dubai for three years, extended its Dubai-based programmes and worked with the National Olympic Committee and Ministry of Education to support the establishment of 18 Badminton School Olympic Training Centres across the UAE.

In Dubai, the National Training Centres established in 2015 received additional support from the National Olympic Committee and Ministry of Education to serve as the Olympic Training Centres. The Centres saw an estimated 500 players training three times per week.

To support the introduction of the Training Centres in other emirates, Shuttle Time Dubai conducted teaching courses in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman to equip teachers with the skills to train the children involved in the badminton programme.

Roudha Saeed Rashed won the U15 tournament.

Roudha Saeed Rashed won the U15 tournament.

In addition, Shuttle Time Dubai also donated 500 racquets, 400 shuttlecocks and 25 portable nets to the Badminton School Olympic Training Centres.

The extensive preparation across the UAE paid off last week, with an exciting competition in both the girls’ and boys’ three age categories at the UAE School Olympics.

The team representing Dubai dominated the competition, taking home all but four of the medals, with five gold, five silver and ten bronze in their total haul of 20 medals. The team from Eastern Sharjah also performed well against more experienced opposition, taking home one gold, one silver and two bronze.

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