Five years ago, when he won the silver medal at the under-17 Asians in Indonesia, Kiran George appeared to be in a hurry to climb the men’s ladder in Indian badminton quickly.
He was just 16 then but he did not want to spend much time on the junior circuit.
Kiran is now just below the top 100 in the men’s world rankings but he is showing the country where he actually belongs.
The 21-year-old topped the Badminton Association of India’s recent trials in Hyderabad to pick the Indian team for this month’s Sudirman Cup and Thomas Cup in Denmark in October.
Players ranked in the World’s top 20 were exempted still the trials, which raised many eyebrows and much noise, had some big names like Lakshya Sen (World No. 24), Sameer Verma (28) and H.S. Prannoy (30) in the men’s section.
And Kiran defeated Sameer, Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram to finish on top.
“This is one of the best years, I also defeated Mark Caljouw (World No. 23) in the Orleans Masters in France in March,” said Kiran in a chat with The Hindu from Bengaluru. He had shocked Prannoy in the same tournament.
“Game-wise too, I’m playing a lot better, picking shots and attacking at the right time.”
Former international Vimal Kumar, who coaches Kiran at the Prakash Padukone Academy, feels the youngster would be flying high in a couple of years.
“I was very confident that he would be in the top 50 last year itself but there were no tournaments.”
“He has definitely improved and I’m quite impressed. Kiran has to now play the Challenge and Tour 100 events and graduate to the big stage,” said Vimal.
“I feel in the next one or two years he would get into the top 30. And he should start looking at playing super series and try to win.
That should be his priority. So that by 2024 when the Olympic Games come, he should look at qualifying for that and make the best he can.
“The Olympic Gold Quest has been supporting him for the last seven years. He was just 12 when he came to us in Bengaluru and ever since that he has been here.”
Kiran comes from a family of shuttle stars based in Kochi: his father George Thomas was a former national champion and his mother Preetha and brother Arun had also made a mark in the national circuit.