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Olympic countdown: Satwik-Chirag capable of kicking up a storm

They are the youngest pair to take part in the men’s doubles event at Tokyo Olympics. As No 10 in the world rankings, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have all reasons to feel confident and show what the exuberance of youth can do at the biggest stage.

The duo, in their early 20s, have been making noise for all the right reasons since breaking into the international arena. If Chirag’s power and confidence is his strength, the same lies in Satwik’s big smashes and hard-hitting strokes.

Satwik, born on August 13, 2000, in Andhra Pradesh’s Amalapuram, inherited a love for the game from his father R Kasi Viswanatham, a state-level player turned coach and referee and his elder brother Charan.

Chirag, born on July 4, 1997, in Mumbai, got his initial coaching at ex-doubles coach Uday Pawar’s academy at Goregaon Sports Club.

The duo were first spotted and paired by Malaysia’s Tam Kim Her in 2015. Initially, they failed to make a mark. But once they matured, with Satwik at the back and Chirag at the front, the results came with wins in Challenger events. The badminton world took notice of the youngsters when they became the first Indian doubles pair to win a Super Series 500 title in 2019.

At the Thailand Open BWF World Tour Super 500 tournament, the pair of Satwik and Chirag stunned the Chinese duo of Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen 21-19, 18-21, 21-18 for their maiden title. This year, Satwik and Chirag have a 12-4 record with semi-final appearances in Thailand and the Swiss Open followed by a second-round exit at the All England Championships.

Currently coached by Denmark’s Olympics and World Championships silver medallist Mathias Boe, Satwik and Chirag are fine-tuning their preparations for the Olympics. With Boe’s knowledge of having played against all the pairings in the draw in his playing career, the duo will benefit from his knowledge and expertise in a tough group.

Group A, where Satwik and Chirag are, have the ‘Minions’ World No. 1 Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and Marcus Fernaldi Gideon of Indonesia. The World No 3 Chinese pair of Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin along with the World No 18 British duo of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy complete the group.

Satwik and Chirag may have an outside chance to grab a medal. But the duo full of energy can kick up a storm in their maiden Olympics.

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