Badminton: Sikki, Kiran undergo COVID-19 tests again

Doubles badminton player N Sikki Reddy and physiotherapist Kiran Challagundla on Friday underwent COVID-19 tests for a second time, a day after testing positive for the virus which forced the national camp to be halted in Hyderabad.

The 26-year-old Sikki, a Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist, and Kiran on Thursday tested positive for the contagious disease at the SAI Pullela Gopichand academy, which was immediately closed down for sanitisation and the national badminton camp was suspended for a few days.

Sikki and Kiran were among 21, including players, coaches and support staff, who had undergone Sport Authority of India’s mandatory COVID test before the start of training on August 7. The other 19 have tested negative.

“Sikki and Kiran decided to get themselves tested again in Continental hospital in Hyderabad today. The results are expected tomorrow. They did it in their personal capacity, just to rule out any discrepancy,” said a source close to the development.

“Rest of the members decided that if there report again comes positive then they all will get themselves tested after a few days.”

Both Sikki and Kiran are from Hyderabad and were attending the camp from their homes. They are asymptomatic and currently in home quarantine.

“As a precautionary measure, the respective families of Sikki and her husband B Sumeeth Reddy also went for the COVID test,” the source said.

Sumeeth is also a doubles specialist but he is not part of the camp.

The badminton camp was allowed by SAI for eight Olympic hopefuls following the approval from the Telangana government on August 1.

Sikki, who partners Ashwini Ponnappa in women’s doubles, was seen training with three Indonesian doubles coaches Namrih Suroto, Agus Dwi Santoso and Miftah besides two sparring partners from that country on August 7.

She had clicked a picture on the first day of training where all of them could be seen along with another physio Johnson Solomon and the Indonesians who also trained with world champion P V Sindhu and world bronze-winner B Sai Praneeth.

It was also learnt that Kiran had done tapping for Praneeth and Kidambi Srikanth, who had joined the camp on Monday.

Even though Rio Olympic silver medallist P V Sindhu and Sikki trained in different time slots, they were spotted standing adjacent to each other in a picture which was taken on the first day of the resumption of training at the academy.

Among other Olympic hopefuls, former world no.1 Saina Nehwal has been training in a separate facility along with her husband Parupalli Kashyap, while Ashwini is currently in Bangalore.

The men’s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy is expected to join the camp after a couple weeks.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) had shut down the world tour and other sanctioned tournaments following the completion of the All-England in March due to the global health crisis.

The governing body later unveiled a revised international calendar in May but no tournament has been possible so far.

The next scheduled event for the Indian team is the twice rescheduled Thomas and Uber Cup which is slated from October 3 to 11.