Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Srikanth Kidambi, Badminton Player

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Shuttle and Awe

Badminton’s reigning top-ranker was quite simply the best Indian athlete of the year. For much of his career, Srikanth Kidambi had felt like a tourist lounging on the beaches of sporting glory. He had basked in the sun, but he could never stay. Undaunted by all the missed shots at greatness—from narrowly losing to Lin Dan in the quarterfinals at the Rio Olympics, to suffering a crushing ankle injury at the Korea Open in 2016—Kidambi returned with renewed ferocity last year to put up a career-best show, winning four Super Series titles: Australia, Indonesia, Denmark and France.

The most important aspect has been to train hard and believe in myself. It was a dream to represent India and win medals for the country. Nothing makes me happier

No Indian before him has managed this feat. The top spot in the Men’s Singles Badminton World Federation Rankings was now up for grabs and Kidambi pounced on it, replacing Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen. In the golden age of Indian badminton under coach Pullela Gopichand, Kidambi is the brightest among an all-star squad. A portrait of equanimity, he betrays none of the pressure he must feel to keep delivering his best. Improved consistency, a peerless jump smash and those nerves of steel should see him through another exciting year of play.

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Public Square

Salman Rushdie, Author | Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Political scientist | Nandan Nilekani, Infosys Chairman | Srinath Raghavan, Historian | Ram Madhav, BJP Leader | Swapan Dasgupta, Political commentator and MP | Shashi Tharoor, Scholar Politician | TCA Raghavan, Historian | Ramachandra Guha, Historian | Brahma Chellaney, Strategic thinker | Uday Shankar, President, 21st Century Fox, Asia | Anantha Chandrakasan, Technologist | Gita Gopinath, Economist | Soumya Swaminathan, Paediatrician and clinical scientist | Prasoon Joshi, Poet and Censor Board chairman | Madhav Khosla, Scholar | Sidharth Luthra, Lawyer | Shayara Bano, Triple Talaq Petitioner | Reuben Abraham, Economic Analyst | Pratima Joshi, Architect | Reetika Khera, Economist | Shamika Ravi, Economist | Sharmila Bhattacharya, Scientist | Vijay Prasad, Historian | Nayanjot Lahiri, Historian | Avani Chaturvedi, Fighter Pilot, IAF | Pranshu and Nishant Patni, Entrepreneurs

Complete List of Open Minds 2018: Soft Power

Virat Kohli, Captain, Indian Cricket Team | Priyanka Chopra, Actor | Jeet Thayil, Author | Anju Dodiya, Artist | Alia Bhatt, Actor | Rajkummar Rao, Actor | Chetan Bhagat, Author | Jahnvi Dameron Nandan, Perfumer | Rupi Kaur, Poet | Parvathy Thiruvothu, Actor | Sujatha Gidla, Author | Balkrishna Vithaldas Doshi, Architect | Prayaag Akbar, Author | Ruchika Sachdeva, Fashion Designer | Palghat R Ramprasad, Carnatic musician | Unni R, Author | Kunal Kamra, Comedian | Vikas Khanna, Chef and Television Personality | Shoojit Sircar, Filmmaker | Srikanth Kidambi, Badminton Player | CS Santosh, Off-Road Biking Champion | Mayank Austen Soofi, Author and Blogger | Ratish Nanda, Conservation Architect