Satwik’s pranaam for the Daddies showed the beauty of sport

Satwik’s ‘pranaam’ against The Daddies, Ahsaan & Setiawan (Image: Screengrab from BWF Media)

The round-of-32 match at the All England Open between Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and the Daddies, Hendra Setiawan and Mohammed Ahsan, had just ended and the players were at the net for the customary handshakes. In fact, the end was dramatic with Chirag’s smash giving the Daddies no chance. The lame attempt to get it back was the story. The passing of the baton. For years, Ahsan and Setiawan have been the benchmark in men’s doubles. Now, they have a pair who are gradually establishing themselves as the real successors to the throne. Satwik-Chirag are the pair to beat at the moment, despite their exit in the pre-quarters, and that was evident in the way the Indonesians reacted.

That’s when it happened. Before walking up to the net for the handshake, Satwik did something, which we in India call the pranaam. It is a deeply Indian act and is something that will forever be a part of our culture. Satwik and Chirag have grown up idolising the Daddies, and now they are perhaps a few notches better than them. But that doesn’t mean the respect will be any less. Sport isn’t about arrogance. Rather, it is about respect and admiration. That’s what the gesture was all about. In that instance, we could see before us the true beauty of sport. The Indonesians were taken aback for a second before they hugged the Indians at the net. The hug lasted for a few extra seconds, and yet again, it was all about mutual respect.

In sport, you need to stay humble to be the best. For the best will also be superseded at some point. There will be someone better than the best and the pecking order will change. After Roger Federer, there was a Rafael Nadal and then a Novak Djokovic. After Sunil Gavaskar, there was Sachin Tendulkar and then Virat Kohli. Pele was followed by Diego Maradona and, now, Lionel Messi. That’s what sport is all about.


Satwik and Chirag know this well. The Daddies have now given way to the Indians, and the baton may have passed. But that will never take away from the fact that the Daddies were, and are, one of the best pairs ever to play the sport. They will be celebrated by the next generation, and that’s what Satwik made sure of with his pranaam.

While it is all increasingly competitive when the match is on, soon after it is profoundly different. Competitiveness and aggression give way to respect and celebration adding to the beauty of sport. That sport is all about stories is because of this. It has always lent itself to storytelling and Satwik’s act is proof why. Much more than the wins or the losses, these vignettes enrich the narrative and add to the stories.

We don’t know yet if Satwik and Chirag will win an Olympic medal. But on a day when the formally qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics, they are winners in more ways than one. As real ambassadors of the sport they play, they add to it. Seeing Satwik do what he did, there will be many who will play badminton in the right spirit and imbibe the right values. That’s what makes them winners before they actually stand on the Paris podium.


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