Badminton Life

India's Sridhar Aiming to Hit the Big Time

India's Anup Sridhar is hoping to go where none of his countrymen have ever been before - to the winners' rostrum at the Olympic Games.

India has had some great badminton players in the past with Prakash Padukone and Pulella Gopichand winning the All England men's singles titles in 1980 and 2001 respectively.

The 26-year-old Sridhar, ranked 25 in the world, has earned a reputation as a giant-killer and is now hoping to qualify for the Olympics and then make his mark in Beijing.

"There are quite a few areas of my game which I am working on and hopefully the results will follow," Sridhar told Indian media. "I need to be more consistent in beating top players and have been working hard on it."

One of Sridhar's major influences on his career is Padukone himself, who groomed the player during his youth at the former champion's badminton academy.

He said the academy gave him a solid platform to launch his international career.

"They helped me both on the court as well as off the court," said Sridhar.? "Apart from coaching me and providing me the facilities, they made sure I played at international tournaments at a young age, which helped me a lot.

"[Padukone] taught me the importance of being calm and focused in all situations, something which I lacked while playing top players."

The Indian number one has yet to win a major international tournament but has a few excellent wins under his belt, including that of Indonesia's Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat at the last world championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sridhar was also hoping to lead India to May's Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta but the lack of depth in the Indian team meant they failed to advance from the qualifiers held in Vietnam.

That makes him all the more determined to qualify for the Olympics. To do this, he must finish in the top 16 of the world rankings by April 30 this year.

"I don't like to plan things too much but it would be a fantastic honour to represent my country at the Olympics."

To help him achieve his goal, he has brought in Tom John to coach him. The veteran John had coached both Padukone and Gopichand in the past.

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