India’s ace men’s doubles shuttler Chirag Shetty believes Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu’s Olympic medals have raised the profile of badminton in the country.

Saina won the bronze medal in women’s singles in 2012 London Olympics while Sindhu went a step higher by bagging the silver four years later in Rio Games and Shetty said their achievements were a big motivation for badminton players like him.

“Badminton is currently the second most popular sport in the country after cricket, the meteoric rise of the sport is courtesy of the medals won by Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu at the Olympics,” said Shetty, who competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast and won a gold in the mixed team event and silver in the men’s doubles.

“They have been the biggest motivation which the sport in our country needed and now everyone who wants to take up badminton professionally believes that it is possible.”

Shetty also lauded the Khelo India University Games. The first edition of the Khelo India Unversity Games is being organised by the Government of Odisha in association with the Sports Authority of India, Association of Indian Universities, National Sports Federation and Indian Olympic Association and participating universities.

The Games are slated to take place in Bhubaneswar from February 22 to March 1.

“I think there are plenty of national-level prospects that can be tapped from the Khelo India University Games. If the deserved candidates can be helped with scholarships, nutrition and the right kind of guidance, we can create a strong pool of athletes who could eventually go on to represent India in the international circuit,” said the 22-year-old shuttler.

“I also feel it’s important for families to understand that can be a career for their kids and they need to be supported in order to make it big in their choice of sport,” he added.