P.V. Sindhu poses with gold medal and trophy during the awards ceremony after winning against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara during women’s single final match at the Korea Open Badminton in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: AP
P.V. Sindhu poses with gold medal and trophy during the awards ceremony after winning against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara during women’s single final match at the Korea Open Badminton in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: AP

The badminton story of the decade is India

As the world badminton tourney moves from country to country, more and more Indians are featuring in the business end of tournaments, the latest being P.V. Sindhu's winning run at the Korea Open

Badminton has become a weekly sporting event in India. As the world badminton tourney moves from country to country, more and more Indians are featuring in the business end of tournaments, the latest being P.V. Sindhu’s winning run at the Korea Open last weekend.

The graphics below trace participation and performance in the World Championships. This premier badminton event is held annually, thrice in a span of four years, skipping the Olympic year. The numbers here date back to 2005 and are for the top 10 countries by player participation in the 2017 BWF World Championships held last month.

It’s not just a player or two or a draw or two. Across both genders and four draws, Indians are increasing their numbers in a way that makes it the emerging country story in badminton this decade.

Number of Indian players in draw

Across the four draws—men’s and women’s singles, and men’s and women’s doubles—the number of Indian entries in the BWF World Championships was an all-time high of 14, eight in singles and six pairs in doubles. We have considered the count for a doubles pair as one and not two.

Players in draw: top 10 nations

The table below compares player participation, which is based on rankings and a country cap in the World Championships. The colour gradation goes from red (fewer players) to green (more players). Among this set, in 2005, India fielded the least number of players. In 2017, India was joint second with Japan (14 entries each). China led with 16 entries. The big losers during this period are the badminton heavyweights of the 80s and 90s, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Medals won: top 10 nations

How are countries converting participation to medals? The table below shows how the 16 medals on offer—gold, silver and two bronze medals for each of the four draws—were won. The colour gradation, once again, goes from red (fewer medals) to green (more medals). In each of the last five editions, India has won at least one medal. Japan is the big gainer in recent editions and China the big loser.

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