Two of India’s brightest badminton stars, Sikki Reddy and Buss Sumeeth Reddy have made a bold claim regarding the disparity in status between the singles and doubles players in the country. Both Sikki and Buss have been nominated for the Arjuna award and both the Arjuna award nominees speak out against the disparity existing in Indian badminton.
The pair have won many accolades for the country and they believe that doubles players will soon start delivering results on par with their singles counterparts.
In a recent press release, Sikki spoke on a variety of topics including her Arjuna nominee and the state of doubles badminton in the country.
“I feel honoured that the Badminton Association of India (BAI) has nominated my name for the Arjuna Award. There are no words to explain (how I feel). It’s just a nomination (right now), I can’t say anything because it’s a big (lengthy) process. I hope I get it because my results in the last four to five years have been consistent. I’m doing really well and also reached the top 15 in the mixed doubles.” said Sikki.
“All we want is some appreciation even when we win a small tournament. We do need some encouragement. In the last few years, the singles players started winning Grand Prix Gold or Grand Prix events and now they have started winning Superseries. Before Olympics, PV Sindhu had never won a Superseries but now she is winning those too. She got so much experience (by playing) in a big tournament. Just like that, give us more time and we will start winning Superseries. Now the association is finally recognizing (our talent) and sending pairs for competitions,” said 23-year-old Sikki.
Sikki blamed the system as she points out that we have been accustomed to praising the singles stars while neglecting the ones that perform in the doubles arena.
“Can you tell me who was the top doubles player from Syed Modi’s time? Can you name one from Prakash Padukone’s time? During Pullela Gopichand’s time? No? Our system has been brought up like that,” pointed out Sikki.
“Our system has been created like that. I don’t want to point (fingers at) anybody or anyone. From the early days, they should have supported the Indian doubles players and done something for them. During Saina’s (Nehwal) time, at least we had one good doubles pair in Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. But now, the change is slowly coming. Now is the time that the association or the government has to treat doubles the same as singles for the next generation at least,” exhorted Sikki.
The lack of proper guidance for doubles aspirants has also been an issue in this country.
“I started playing doubles at the age of 18 but outside India, shuttlers start playing doubles when they are 12-13 years old. Now at least in India, the kids are taking up doubles from the age of 13-14. If you see me, Sumeeth or Pranaav (Jerry Chopra), we all started doubles pretty late and we played both, singles and doubles. The reason for that is because we did not have any coach or system to guide us and help us choose doubles. Now, these upcoming doubles shuttlers like Satwiksairaj (Rankireddy), Chirag (Shetty), etc started playing doubles at the age of 13-14 and they never played singles,” she said.
“We did not have any special coach for mixed doubles as such. We just got a coach, Tan Kim Her, some time back and one can see a lot of difference in doubles. Everyone is doing really well. You can see three Indian women’s doubles in top 30. We were zero and within a span of a year, we broke into the top 15. More exposure and experiences will make us get into the top 5 in the world,” said Sikki.
Sumeeth also had his say about the current disparity between the singles and doubles players in the country.
“Since Tan came in, there is a system in place. Before his arrival, we were playing only with the help of Gopi (Pullela Gopichand) sir but he had so many singles players also. It wasn’t easy for him to take care of 40 players at a time. We did our training and own program. Now, there is a proper schedule in place and we follow our coach,” said Sumeeth.
“Media coverage is one issue. But it’s not the only one. Not highlighting our issues and waiting for one of the Indian pairs to win Superseries is another. It is understood that singles will dominate in sports as the credit goes to a single person and in doubles, it is divided,” added Sumeeth.
“Our performances have been improving, if you talk about winning a Grand Prix or Grand Prix Gold four years back, it was a huge thing. I can see the graph going upwards but still, I think there is time for doubles. Singles players have just set the bar high. We should be patient and at the same time not look down at the doubles. It’s just a matter of time. A little support can actually change things,” Sumeeth added.