Sri Krishna Sai Kumar Podile is not your average badminton player. At 17, he’s on the double! Unlike many of his peers, the strapping young lad is focussed on playing alongside partners, be it the men’s or the mixed events at various tournaments. He’s not averse to singles though but says his coaches at the Pullela Gopichand Academy know best and pick the right players for the right disciplines. And so, Krishna is all over the court with Vishnuvardhan Goud (men’s) and Rutuparna Panda (mixed). “They are my best friends with whom I share a very good rapport. It shows on court,” says Krishna, who recently won the men’s and mixed titles (this time with Srishti Jupudi though) at the recent Smt Krishna Khaitan All-India tournament in Chandigarh.
Being India No.1 in mixed and No.2 in men’s, Krishna carries a lot of weight around but stays grounded and speaks softly, in tune with his skilful strokes. His plans are well laid out. “I want to win the Junior National championship and then get into the national camp for seniors. Later, I will set out to play international tournaments — Series, Grand Prix, Grand Prix Gold — for the next two years... and then, the big one — Olympics!”
“Yes, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is definitely on my mind. It’s every sportsperson’s dream to participate in the quadrennial event and I will work hard to give it a shot. One has to be among the Top 50 in the first quarter or so of the Olympic year to qualify and I have my eyes set on that,” Krishna says.
“India has at least five players in the Top 20 in singles, I want to win a medal for the country in the doubles category,” he says, determination writ large on his face. He is putting in the hard yards too. “I practice for six hours every day, two in the morning for physical fitness and four hours on court in the evening,” says Krishna who trains under the watchful eyes of former national champion Arun Vishnu. Krishna also looks up to doubles specialist Manu Attri, likes Srikanth Kidambi’s game and draws inspiration from the exploits of former All-England champion and national coach Pullela Gopichand.
Well, like all Indian kids, Krishna’s first sports equipment was a cricket bat. “I even joined an academy that was nearby our house. My father (University of Hyderabad vice-chancellor Appa Rao Podile) was interested in badminton and put me in a summer coaching camp when I was 10. There, I won the camp’s U-13 tournament and fell in love with the game. Later, I joined the regular batch and took the game seriously before winning some district level tourneys to start with. Now, here I am,” he smiles.
- Winner at the Hyderabad District Badminton Championship for boys under 13 in the year 2011 & 2012 and runner-up in the year 2011 & 2012 for boys under 15.
- Selected as captain of Hyderabad Region Badminton team to represent KVS at 58th & 59th National School Games 2012-13 & 2013-14 respectively.
- Ranga Reddy District Badminton Championship – 2014, winner under boys singles & doubles under 17 and for boy’s singles & doubles under 19 in the year 2015 & 2016.
- Winner under 17 and 19 Telangana State Junior boys and girls Badminton Championship – 2015 at Karimnagar.
- Winner boys doubles under 17 at All India Junior Ranking Badminton Tournament at Hyderabad, Tirupati and Delhi in 2016 and boys doubles under 17 & 19 at Telangana State Junior boys & girls Badminton Championship – 2016.
- Winner in both Doubles and Mixed Doubles at the Smt. Krishna Khaitan Memorial All India Junior Major Ranking prize money Badminton tournament in 2017 at Chandigarh.
Participation in various tournaments
- Participated in the Andhra Pradesh State Badminton Tournament, sub-junior National Championship and represented KV School in the year 2012 & 2013.
- Participated in All India sub-juniors Ranking Badminton Tournament at Kadapa, Bhagalpur and Udupi in the year 2014.
- Participated at the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana State Badminton Championship 2014, Ch. Ranbir Singh Memorial 28th sub-junior National Badminton Tournament representing Telangana State for boys singles and doubles under 15.
- Represented Telangana State at 71st South Zone Inter-State Badminton Championships-2015, 40th Inter-State Zonal & Junior National Badminton Championship – 2015 and participated at All India Junior Rankings at Bangalore, Chandigarh and Hyderabad in 2016.
- Participated in Toss academy All India Junior Rankings Badminton Tournament in 2016 at Trivandrum.
- Represented Indian team for boys doubles under 17 at the Asian Junior Badminton Championships — Kudus – Indonesia – 2016 and participated at Smt. Krishna Khaitan All India Junior Ranking tournament in 2016 at Chandigarh and also in the Yonex Sunrise India Junior International in 2016 at Pune.
- Represented Telangana State at the International Series and at the 41st Junior National Badminton Championship in 2016.
- Participated at Toss Academy All India Junior Ranking Badminton tournament, 16th Union Bank All India Junior Ranking Badminton tournament and represented Indian team under 19 for boys at the Asian junior badminton championship in 2017 at Jakarta, Indonesia 2017.
- Represented Telangana State in the mixed team event at south zone interstate badminton championships, participated in the Yonex Sunrise India Junior Grand Prix International at Pune in 2017.
- Represented Indian team for mixed doubles under 19 event at the Yonex sunrise world junior championships – 2017 – Jakarta – Indonesia.