NEW DELHI, March 23: His Commonwealth Games debut spoiled by brain fever four years ago, Kidambi Srikanth, now the toast of the nation, is eyeing a maiden medal at the Gold Coast multi-sport extravaganza after a sensational run last season.
Weeks before he was to make his debut at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Srikanth was battling for life in an Intensive Care Unit.
He was found unconscious on the bathroom floor of the Gopichand Academy and later diagnosed with brain fever. He ended up spending about a week in the ICU, giving a mighty scare to his near and dear ones.
But that is history.
Cut to 2018, Srikanth is arguably one of the best sportspersons in the country, walking shoulder to shoulder with the who�s who of the sporting world.
With four titles under his belt, Srikanth swept all the sports awards, including the prestigious Padma Shri, and is considered a hot-favourite for the coveted gold medal at Gold Coast.
�It was some sort of a virus, I don�t even know the name. Nobody even wanted to tell me what happened that day and I don�t remember much,� Srikanth says, recalling the incident in 2014.
�I was playing good enough so I returned and played at the Commonwealth Games but lost to a Singapore guy in the quarters,� he recollects.
�Now after four years, I think I am much more confident after all the experience of the last one year, so it will be a different experience. Of course, winning a medal at CWG ranks high in my list,� he says.
In less than a fortnight, Srikanth will carry the aspirations of millions on his shoulders as he looks to retain the Commonwealth Games gold medal that Parupalli Kashyap had won for India in Glasgow after 32 long years.
Only Prakash Padukone (1978, Edmonton) and Syed Modi (1982, Brisbane) have won gold in badminton at this multi-sport event.
�Last time we had won a good number of medals and now we are playing much better than what we were four years back and we have a great chance of winning more medals this time.
�Commonwealth Games is priority for me. Winning a medal there is more important than becoming world number 1 and I will look to remain fit. It is one of the targets of the year,� adds the 25-year-old.
Born in Ravulapalem, a small town in Andhra Pradesh, Srikanth�s journey in badminton was all about following the footsteps of his brother Nandagopal, a doubles India player. � PTI