Why is India's Thomas Cup win such a big deal?
India won the prestigious Thomas Cup for the first time in 73 years, defeating 14-time champions Indonesia. The tournament has been dominated by Indonesia and China since the beginning.
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When success comes late, you value it more. And who knows it better than the Indian men’s badminton team, which scripted history in Bangkok on May 15, 2022. The team won its maiden Thomas Cup title or Badminton World Men's Team Championship for the first time in 73 years. Ever since the tournament began in 1948, it has been dominated by Indonesia (14 times winner) and China (10-time winner). However, on Sunday, India gave Indonesia a jaw-dropping defeat, ending their 15th claim on the title.
The Indian team after winning the Thomas Cup. Photo: Associated Press (AP)
Indian National Badminton Coach and former player, Pulella Gopichand felt that this win was even bigger than India's cricket World Cup in 1983. “I think the badminton win is a bigger one. Winning Thomas Cup, where strong teams from Denmark, China and Indonesia played, winning the tournament was big. If you would have told anyone 2-3 years ago about India winning the cup, you would be laughed at,” Gopichand spoke to India Today after the victory.
Not only this, former Indian Badminton World Champion, Prakash Padukone, called it an end of what he started in 1980s. In 1980s, Padukone became the first Indian badminton player to win the All England Open Badminton Championships. He said, “1980 was a big victory but this is something else. We are on the right track and there won’t be any looking back.”
Indian men’s badminton team had phenomenal players and a support staff that believed in them. The singles team had a world championship medallist Lakshya Sen, silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth, HS Prannoy and Priyanshu Rawat. The doubles team had Chirag Shetty & Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Mir Arjun & Dhruv Kapila, Krishna Prasad & Vishnuvardhan Goud.
“When we won the quarter finals, we had decided that we are not going to be back without winning the cup,” Silver medallist Kidambi Srikanth spoke to PM Narendra Modi on the telephone. Watch the video here:
A special interaction with our badminton ? champions, who have won the Thomas Cup and made 135 crore Indians proud. pic.twitter.com/KdRYVscDAK— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 15, 2022
The tournament that began on May 8, 2022 had 16 teams from all over the world participating. India, since 2000 could not go farther than quarter finals. In 2022, India was in Group C, which had strong teams like Germany, Canada and Chinese Taipei.
Indian men’s badminton team triumphed over Germany 5-0 in the first group tie. Next, India got over Canada, defeating them 5-0 again.
The only game India lost was against Chinese Taipei, which they lost 2-3. But the team shot back again in the quarter finals, when they defeated Malaysia 3-2; and defeated Denmark 3-2 in the semi-finals. In the finals, India beat Indonesia 3-0 winning the prestigious Thomas Cup, the first time ever.
Here are the winning moments:
WHY IS IT CALLED THOMAS CUP?
The tournament Thomas Cup or World’s Men's Team Championship is the brainchild of England’s Sir George Thomas who proposed the idea in 1939.
Thomas took inspiration from Tennis’s Davis Cup and Football International Cup. He wanted badminton to have its own version of Davis Cup. And this is how Thomas Cup or badminton’s biggest tournament in the world came into existence.
The first match happened only in 1948, nearly 10 years after Sir George Thomas first proposed it.
World War 2 started and the plan had to be postponed. Then again in 1946, at the Council’s first Annual General Meeting (AGM), the men’s championship was planned for 1948-49.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THOMAS CUP
The tournament is held every two years. In the 30 Thomas Cup championships so far, only six countries have won.
- The first three editions were won by Malaysia.
- From 1958, Indonesia began their streak of winning the Thomas Cup winning it consecutively till 1979 except losing in 1967 to Malaysia.
- The entry of China in 1980s, gave a big twist to the tournament.
- Since then, China has won 10 titles. From 2004-2012, China four times straight. In 2014, China received a big shock from Japan when they lost the title from them.
- In 2016, Denmark became the first non-Asian country to win the Thomas Cup. Denmark had defeated Indonesia in the finals. In 2018 China won the tournament defeating Japan in Bangkok.
- In 2021, Indonesia again won the tournament, also ending its 19-year drought defeating China 3-0 in the finals.
- In 2022, India won the cup for the first time.