Star Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth has engaged an Indonesian coach to assist him improve his game in the lead-up to next year's championship with the Paris Olympics in mind.
The qualifying season for the 2024 Olympics started on May 1, and Wiempie Mahardi has been hired by Srikanth, who has been having form issues, to assist him in his training.
“I've been looking for a coach ever since Agus departed in December 2021. I now train with Wiempie Nahardi, an Indonesian. When I traveled to Indonesia for three weeks of training, I ran into him. According to former world number one Srikanth, he arrived in India in the last week of April.
Since the unexpected departure of Indonesia's Agus Dwi Santoso in December 2021, India has failed to hire a foreign coach for its men's singles players. Park Tae Sang has been assisting the men's singles players ever after PV Sindhu and the Korean split in February.
“I tried using TOPS to find a coach, but it didn't work out. I submitted the idea to SAI in January, and since then it has been on hold. I couldn't wait any longer since the Olympic qualifying season began in May, so I made the decision to do it myself,” Srikanth stated.
Mahardi, a former player who reached the top 25 in the world, has more than 10 years of coaching expertise and has worked with athletes in several clubs across the globe.
When Srikanth's training duties were taken over by Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo in 2017, he had unheard-of results. That season, the Indian went on to win four championships. When he joined the Indian coaching staff in 2020, Agus Dwi Santoso, another Indonesian coach, had an effect on him.
The use of a personal coach may not be effective for everyone, but it has in the past for me. I performed well both while Agus and Mulyo were present. I can play this Indonesian style, but I required a coach.
The athlete who is under Baseline Ventures management added, “It is not easy to play without a coach, I mean that is the minimum requirement for a player.”
However, due to his involvement in the Asian Games selection trials, Srikanth was unable to practice with his new coach. With six victories in as many bouts, he came out on top and qualified for the individual events.
“I didn't really have time to practise with him when I returned from the Asia Badminton Championships. I only had two days before to the trials and two days after them. I'm hoping to practice with him after the forthcoming Asian competitions.
In seven competitions, Srikanth managed only one quarterfinal finish, which caused his world ranking to drop from 13 to 22.
“I played good the past few times, but I simply couldn't pull off those tight victories. It will make a significant impact once I begin doing it. Let's see what I can do in my next four competitions.
“Badminton also keeps changing; someone will emerge and take the lead, and people will need to come up with a different strategy.”
Prior to leading India to a historic Thomas Cup victory last year, Srikanth had earned silver in the global championships in 2021.
“I performed well in 2021 and 2022 up to the Commonwealth Games, after which others gradually improved and I may have remained there. You have to always become better, and having a coach is helpful for that, he said.
The 30-year-old from Guntur, who was placed 22nd, had to take part in the selection trials for the first time since only the top 20 players received direct admittance for the Asian Games.
“I believe this was my first time participating in a trial for the Asian Games. As long as there is a set rule, I am OK with it. Since I haven't played two matches in a day in a while, it is naturally a bit exhausting, said Srikanth.
“Playing two matches was difficult for me; the younger guys won't notice. I used to play five or six games a day when I was between the ages of 19 and 20. Back then, my body could handle that load, but I can't do it anymore. Additionally, the Olympic qualifying cycle has begun, which is difficult for the players.
The Sudirman Cup, a mixed team event that starts on May 14 in Suzhou, China, is up next for Srikanth.
“Our squad is powerful, but we still need to deliver, like it did in the Thomas Cup. We have a superior squad, in my opinion. In prior years, we would do well in singles but fall short in doubles. This season, our singles and doubles teams are quite powerful, he remarked.
Group C includes Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, and Australia in addition to India.
In the previous Thomas Cup, Satwik and Chirag's victories made a significant impact in each match. It is about that one doubles victory against teams like Malaysia, Taipei, Japan, or Korea, so they will make a significant difference. In the majority of previous Sudirman Cups, we often lost 3-2.
With the success of our men's and women's doubles, we have a much greater chance this time.