New Delhi: Set to be bestowed with the Arjuna award, ace India shuttler Kidambi Srikanth said that the prestigious honour in addition to some encouraging words by legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has made him hungrier to scale new heights.
Srikanth, who created a number of records this season and also broke into the top-5, revealed that he was recently told by Tendulkar that he would become number one soon.
Srikanth had a meeting with Tendulkar ahead of the World Championship when he had visited one of his uncle’s place in Hyderabad on August 4.
“It was a big moment for me to meet him. He is a legend and as a kid I too followed him. He had come to one of my uncle’s place, who is his friend. I met him there.
“I didn’t get much time to talk to him but those 5-7 minutes that I spent with him, he told me that I will definitely become the World No. 1 someday, and it was a big thing coming from Tendulkar,” said Srikanth.
The 22-year-old won his maiden India Super Series, Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold titles, reached the final of Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold in January and also became World No. 3 in June, besides winning the China Open over the past one year.
Asked about him being for the Arjuna Award, Srikanth said: “I have been performing really well this year, so I knew I had a chance that I can get it, so I was expecting it. It is a big honour for me. It is a pretty big thing.
“Be it in any year, it motivates you. Of course, being an Olympic year, it does give an extra motivation to work harder. It is an added bonus. It makes you hungrier to prove yourself further in the tournaments and go for medals,” he said.
“I had no idea about Arjuna Award before I started playing badminton. After I became a badminton player, I saw (Parupalli) Kashyap getting it after the Olympics, Ashwini (Ponnappa) also got it, (P V) Sindhu got it in 2013. So I knew if I can perform well, I too will get it someday,” Srikanth added.
The Andhra lad will carry billion hopes when he steps on to the court at the Rio Olympics but Srikanth said he was not thinking about it right now.
“I know Olympics is round the corner and being World No. 3, there would be expectations but I’m not thinking about it now. Right now, I am thinking about the next two tournaments at Japan and Korea,” he said.
Asked how he assessed his game after his quarterfinal finish at the World Championship, where he lost narrowly to Hu Yun of Hong Kong.
“It has been a good year for me. Last event was also good. I just lost a point against Hu Yun. It could have been anybody’s game. Winning and losing is a part of the game. So, I am happy with the way I performed,” he said.