India Open 2024: Satwik-Chirag, Gopi’s Wisdom and a Spectacle to Cherish

India’s Satwik and Chirag finish runners up in Men’s Doubles finals (credit: BAI Media)

The India Open 2024 lasted a total of six days, and in that time, the tournament offered lessons that you only encounter occasionally. From watching Indian shuttlers take on top-seeded players in front of a packed crowd, to talking to the legendary Pullela Gopichand, to meeting passionate fans who went all out for their favourite players – the tournament was one of a kind. When I walked into the stadium on January 16th, I did not expect an experience this incredible.

Wisdom from Gopichand

Who would ever turn down the opportunity to pick Gopichand’s brain? Every Indian sports enthusiast carries the indelible image of Gopichand on the sidelines. From a spectator’s standpoint, one can’t help but ponder the thoughts racing through his mind.

When you listen to Gopi share his thoughts, it hits home that his wisdom isn’t just about badminton – it speaks to everyone, no matter where they are in life. Whether you’re hustling in the corporate world, chasing your athletic dreams, or managing a household, his lessons are for all of us.

“It’s not just about wanting something; you’ve got to earn it too,” he said. “It’s alright if you face setbacks. As long as you’re on the right path, success will come your way eventually. If you’ve stumbled, there’s a reason behind it. Figure it out and work on it. Don’t let emotions get too tangled up, they only make things more complicated. Ask yourself: Are you on the right track? Are you learning from the journey? Are you making the necessary adjustments? These are the questions that really matter.”

Insights on the rise of Satwik-Chirg from Mathias Boe, their coach

One of the most-talked-about points regarding the Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty duo is their attacking style. But how does Mathias Boe, their coach. make sure to maximise their potential?

“It’s clear to everyone that they have an incredible physique, they have a really good offence but it’s not always enough just to hit hard smashes,” said Boe. “They also need to build up for it and get the opportunities to smash. Which means that we need to be able to play from the defence as well. Initially, it was Satwik from the back and Chirag at the net but now we play more 50-50. It’s important to mix it up and make the attack more venomous.”

The fans

You don’t get an idea of how passionate fans in the stands are until you go and talk to them. During my coverage of the tournament, I made sure to talk to a few young fans. Some of them had gladly skipped school for the entire week just so they could watch the tournament. These were young kids who absolutely idolised not just the Indian shuttlers, but also sat through the day to support every shuttler playing a match. One of the fans had even travelled all the way from Chennai. Listening to them speak so passionately about supporting the Indian players was heart-warming. Most of them had lost their voices by Day 3 of the tournament because of the constant cheering.

“When we watch Satwik and Chirag bhaiyya play, it isn’t merely about watching the game, we feel like a part of their team,” said one. “It feels amazing to know that they’re the ones representing us on the court. So we put in all our efforts to support them throughout their match, be it loud cheers or chants. We don’t ever want them to lose their morale, even when they lose some points.”

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