KOCHI: The Badminton Association of India has claimed that it will improve the playing conditions at senior national championships in order to lure elite players such as P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth back to the nation’s premier badminton event. The top players have not been able to participate in national championships for the past few seasons mostly due to their international schedules but also because of the event's mediocre reputation.
Himanta Biswa Sarma, president of BAI said here on Monday that apart from addressing the issue of “playing conditions” that was a major concern of the elite players, the prize money will also be increased starting with the upcoming senior nationals to be held at Nagpur from Nov 1 to 7, to glamourise the event. “We want to transform national championship into a brand,” said Sarma. “We already have a brand in PBL and we want our premier domestic tournament also to become a huge hit among the fans. It has been a long time that the fans have seen high-profile clashes in the national circuit and we hope to transform the national championship from this year,” the BAI president said.
“We will be increasing the prize money close to Rs. 1 crore from this year and the players will be getting prize money from the pre-quarters stage,” he added. BAI also announced its decision to felicitate former world no.1 Prakash Padukone with its first-ever lifetime achievement award. The iconic singles player, who in 1980 had become the first Indian to win the All England Championship, will be awarded Rs 10 lakhs and a citation, informed Mr. Sarma. Meanwhile, the World Senior Badminton Championship started at the Rajiv Gandhi Indoor Stadium here with more than 650 players from as many as 30 countries participating.
Kerala players Joy T. Antony and K.A. Aneesh had a smooth passage to the round-of-16 in the men's singles +40 category. Antony drubbed Sri Lanka's Senaka Attanayake 21-6, 21-4 while Aneesh won 21-19, 21-12 against Indonesia's Kin Cung Tjendar. In the men's singles +35 section, former national champion Abhinn Shyam Gupta, Olympian Nikhil Kanetkar, Lakhwinder Pannu and Ajay Dayal among other Indians, won their round-of-32 ties....