Former World no. 1 Kidambi Srikanth hires Indonesian coach Wiempie Mahardi

Former World no. 1 Kidambi Srikanth hires Indonesian coach Wiempie Mahardi

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Top India shuttler Kidambi Srikanth has roped in Indonesian coach Wiempie Mahardi to assist him improve his game in the lead-up to next year's Paris Olympics in mind. The 2024 Olympic qualification season started on May 1 and Mahardi has to tackle Srikanth's dip in form since 2022.

“I have been trying to get a coach since December 2021, when Agus left. Now I have an Indonesian coach Wiempie Nahardi. I met him when I went to Indonesia to train for three weeks. He came to India in last week of April,” former world number one Srikanth told PTI.

Since the unexpected departure of Indonesia's Agus Dwi Santoso in December 2021, India has yet to name a foreign coach for its men's singles players. Park Tae Sang had been assisting the men's singles players ever after PV Sindhu and the Korean split in February.

“I was trying to get a coach through TOPS but somehow, it didn’t work out. In January, I had sent SAI the proposal and since then it has been on hold. Since the Olympic qualification period was also starting in May, I couldn’t hold any longer, so I decided to do it myself,” Srikanth said.

Mahardi, a former player who reached the top 25 in the world, has more than 10 years of coaching expertise and has worked with athletes in several clubs across the world. When Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo took over the training duties in 2017, Srikanth saw great results. In the next season, the Indian won four championships. He was influenced by Agus Dwi Santoso, another Indonesian coach, when he joined the Indian team in 2020.

“I don’t think it (a personal coach) will work for everyone but it worked for me in the past. When Mulyo was there, I did really well, and Agus was there I did well. So this Indonesian style works for me, that’s why I needed a coach. It is not easy to play without a coach, I mean that is the minimum requirement for a player."

While Srikanth took part in the Asian Games selection trials, he was unable to practise with his new coach. He won six matches in a row to finish first and earn a spot in the individual events.

“I couldn’t really train with him because after I came back from Asia Badminton championships, I didn’t have any time. I had just two days before the trials and two days after the trials. After the upcoming Asian events, I hope to get some time to train with him.” In seven competitions, Srikanth managed just one quarterfinal finish, which caused his world ranking to drop from 13 to 22.

“I was playing well last few events but just couldn’t win those close matches. Once I start doing that it will make a big difference. Let’s see what I can get out of the next four tournaments that I am playing."

“Badminton also keeps evolving, there will be someone who will come and dominate and people will have to come up with an alternate formula.” Prior to leading India to a historic Thomas Cup victory last year, Srikanth had earned silver in the global championships in 2021.

“I have done well in 2021 and 2022 till Commonwealth Games and then others slowly started getting better and I may have stayed there. You constantly need to keep improving, and that is also an important reason to have a coach,” he said.

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