Kuala Lumpur: Kidambi Srikanth’s sudden rise to prominence in the men’s singles category by winning Indonesia Open and Australian Open within two weeks has sent shock waves through the world of badminton recently. But you probably won’t be surprised if you know Mulyo Handoyo has been grooming and shaping Srikanth into a world beater since early 2017.
Mulyo Handoyo, best known for coaching Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat to the 2004 Olympic gold, the 2005 World Championships title, and the 2006 Asiad gold, was appointed by Badminton Association of India (BAI) under the suggestion of Pullela Gopichand on a three-year contract as the men’s singles and women’s singles coach in early 2017.
Back in March 2017, Handoyo already told reporters that Srikanth was the only Indian player that has the style closest to that of his former pupil, the badminton legend – Taufik Hidayat.
Handoyo believed the 24-year-old Srikanth has a touch of greatness. “In India, the player with the style closest to Taufik is Srikanth. He has an all-round game that is the same as Taufik,” said Handoyo.
Nevertheless, Handoyo also revealed that that the 24-year-old Srikanth lacked the same power compared to Taufik Hidayat and Srikanth needed to get stronger mentally too.
“Srikanth has the ability to beat anyone at the highest level of badminton, but he needs to work harder and be more focused in order to develop the winning mentality,” said Handoyo back in March.
Since Handoyo’s arrival, there has been a string of success for India’s singles players – with P. V. Sindhu claiming the 2017 Syed Modi International Grand Prix in Lucknow, and the 2017 India Open women’s singles titles; While Sai Praneeth has won the Singapore Open Superseries title in April and Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold in June. And now, Kidambi Srikanth’s two consecutive Super Series titles in two weeks.
Srikanth was particularly appreciative of the guidance he received from Handoyo for his victories in Indonesia and Australia.
“The Australian Open is to all those who supported me right through including coaches Mulyo, Gopi sir (national coach Pullela Gopichand), fellow players and all those unsung staff at Gopi Academy,” said Srikanth after winning the Australian Open.
At the post-match interview after winning the Indonesia Open two weeks ago, Srikanth was struggling to control his emotions and paid tribute to Handoyo by telling reporters that: “His contribution to my game has been incredible, he has already made a special place in my heart.”
Handoyo began his coaching career way back in 1982 as a coach in the PB Djarum badminton club in Kudus, Indonesia. He was appointed by the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) in 1995 to coach the Indonesia National team.