Name: Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy
Category: Double's badminton
Qualification: The World No 21 Indian pair sealed its Rio berth after the BWF World ranking were released, following the end of the qualification period between 4 May, 2015 to 1 May, 2016.
Strengths: Their strength can be seen in their progression. They have successfully built a campaign that focuses on the Olympics and their will to win a medal for India makes them strong medal contenders.
Past record (recent best performances): - Gold at Canada Open 2015 for men's doubles in badminton.
- Gold in men's doubles at Mexico City Grand Prix 2015
- Silver in men's doubles at Dutch Open 2015
- Gold in men's doubles at Belgian Grand Prix
- Final of the US Open Grand Prix in men's doubles
Past Olympics performance: Debut
Rio Prospects: Their chances seem worthy of attention. Their campaign towards Rio has been built around gaining entry into the tournament and now a slow accession into medal contention is likely. But it has to be taken one game at a time, with each game set to be an uphill task.
The story of Badminton pairing Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy is one of progression. They are the first official Indian doubles team to participate in badminton at the Olympics. They have constantly climbed the charts and have now reached a point where they are well within the range of challenging for Olympic medals.
With 44,419 points on the badminton circuit, the pairing of Attri and Reddy are currently ranked 21st.
Talking about their partnership Manu Attri says: “Me and Sumeeth are completely opposite. After a match or training, I like to go out and chill with friends and he wants to stay back, always focused and a serious kind of a guy. But we never interfere in each others’ lives and it never mattered because we are always together when on court, we have a great bonding.”
Both list the US Open Grand Prix run, where they tore through their opponents to reach the finals of the 2015 edition, as their best moment in badminton according to the Badminton World Federation website.
Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy started playing internationally in 2013. Their first national level tournament as a doubles team came in September, 2012, when they managed to win the title and start their careers as doubles team partners.
Since their US Open exploits, the pair has taken all their tournaments and planned it around their preparations for the Rio Olympics
“Experience is important. But if you work hard, you can improve faster. There is a three-month gap now and we will look to train harder and improve our fitness for Olympics,” the 23-year-old told PTI.
They're progression can be attributed to their coach new doubles specialist Malaysian coach Kim Her Tan.
Both Attri and Reddy say that Kim has improved their consistency and adds to the technical side of their game with specific points in between games, that aid in improving their performances on the long-term as well as the short-term.
If there is one major problem that both the Indian shuttlers face it is their lack of experience at winning any major super series titles. In fact they haven't been able to move past the first round of any Super Series tournament this year, other than the India Open, where their opponents were fellow Indian compatriots.
While their form in 2015-16 hasn't been consistent with the promise they have shown as a doubles team, the reason for the same is mostly due to their attempt at playing in multiple tournaments in a bid to book a place for Rio.
"The inconsistency is due to the number of tournaments we played since one year, just to make sure we qualify but we now would be focusing on the Olympics so the results would get better from now," Sumeeth said. "We need to cut down on simple errors on court and not give away easy points. We have to work hard without thinking about the results."
But could they make an impact in a field dominated by Korean, Japanese and Chinese shuttlers?
Thumping wins at Mexico, Canada and a dream run at the US Open Grand Prix means that the doubles pairing are serious medal contenders. But they will have to perform to their absolute best and hope for lady luck to play her part in order to fulfill their coveted dream of Olympic and Indian history.
With inputs from agencies.