The prime event of the BWF badminton calendar – the all-awaited Badminton World Championships is the grand stage for all shuttlers to put their skills to the test and lock horns with the best in the world, all in the fight to get the crown of being the World Champion.
Aside from the Olympics and the All England Open, the credit of winning a medal at the World Championships ranks equally high and so far, India has been able to see a World Champion only once in the history of the event when ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu won the title in 2019, after an eternally long wait.
But the rate at which Indian badminton is booming, especially in the men’s singles and men’s doubles, the chance of seeing a World Champion from India soon is highly possible.
Started in 1977, the Badminton World Championships would take place once every three years till 1983 before it became a biennial affair till 2005 and currently, the BWF World Championships take place every year, except an Olympic year – although 2021 in Huelva was an exception, due to the pandemic.
At this all-important event on the roster of any badminton player, Indian shuttlers have had a fair bit of success, especially in the recent past and to date, several Indians have medalled at the BWF World Championships with PV Sindhu dominating the most here.
Here are the Indian medallists from the BWF World Championships:
1. PV Sindhu
When it comes to the big stages, PV Sindhu is the safest bet to fall back upon as she inevitably delivers. Possessing 5 medals – 1 gold, 2 silvers, and 2 bronzes, Sindhu has been regularly medalling at the top event, making her the most successful Indian badminton star at the World Championships.
With the gold eluding her for quite some time, her hands on the World Championship crown only came in 2019 Basel when she defeated Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara and she was able to add another feather to her cap of achievements.
2. Saina Nehwal
India’s first poster girl of badminton has two medals from the BWF World Championships to her name – a silver and a bronze respectively. In 2015, when Saina had climbed the height of being World No. 1 – the first Indian shuttler to do so on the senior circuit, she met with Spain’s Carolina Marin in the finals and lost a closely-contested match to settle for silver.
In 2017, Saina won the bronze while Sindhu won the silver on that occasion, making it a special occasion when two Indians shared the podium at the World Championships in the same category.
3. Kidambi Srikanth
Former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth was in rave form in the latter half of 2021 and that led to him making it to the finals of the men’s singles for the first time after he handed a really difficult defeat to fellow Indian shuttler Lakshya Sen in the semi-finals of the Huelva World Championships.
In the finals, a first for an Indian male shuttler, Srikanth met with Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew and engaged in a great fight before ultimately losing and claiming the silver medal.
4. Lakshya Sen
Just 21 now, Lakshya Sen has been on a roll since the latter half of 2021 as well and was in peak form during the World Championships in Huelva. Clinching his first-ever World Championships medal as he claimed bronze after losing to fellow Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth in the thrilling semi-final, Lakshya Sen really marked his arrival on the circuit with the medal win.
5. B. Sai Praneeth
Albeit plagued by injuries, Sai Praneeth is as talented a shuttler as they come and in 2019, Praneeth was in epic form and that resulted in him claiming a bronze at the BWF World Championships, while Sindhu won the crown in the women’s singles in the same year.
Having slain Anothony Ginting and Jonatan Christie en route to the semi-finals, Sai Praneeth was on a giant-killing spree in 2019 at the event but was stopped short by top-seed Kento Momota of Japan in the semi-finals and lost to him, only to win a prized bronze, becoming only the second Indian male shuttler to achieve this feat.
6. Prakash Padukone
For the longest time, it was Prakash Padukone who was the sole winner from India at the World Championships as he became the first Indian shuttler to bag a medal at the event way back in 1983. India had to wait 28 years before getting another medallist from the prestigious tournament.
A pioneer of Indian badminton, Padukone won the bronze after losing to Indonesia’s Icuk Sugiarto, who went on to beat badminton legend, Liem Swie King, in the finals and was crowned champion.
7. Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa
Entering the competition unseeded, the women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa became successful in ending India’s 28-year-long wait for a medal at the World Championships when they won a bronze.
Enjoying a great spell, the duo lost to fifth-seeded Chinese pair Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei in the semi-finals and had to settle for silver. With this win, they also became the first and remain the only pair to win a medal from the World Championships.