PV Sindhu: The goal is to win the gold at Paris Olympics

“The planning and preparations for that will begin in earnest after a short break. For the time being, let me bask in this moment of glory of being a double Olympic medallist,” says P. V Sindhu who won a bronze medal at the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics.

Proving a point: “If attack was my strong point earlier, now I can say there are a few more weapons in my armoury which should make me a force to reckon with in,” says P. V. Sindhu.   -  PTI

P. V. Sindhu has admirably managed to carry the weight of expectations to return with a second Olympic medal from the recently concluded Tokyo Games.

She travelled to the Rio Olympics in 2016 as a newcomer, with the spotlight staying away from her. But Sindhu’s resilience and determination saw her reach the final, where she lost a closely fought contest to Spain’s Carolina Marin. The silver medal from her maiden Olympics catapulted her to global stardom and a string of performances at the world stage, including the world title in 2019, made her one of India’s most prominent medal prospects for the postponed Games.

The COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted her training regimen and critics had also questioned her move to shift base from the Gopichand Badminton Academy to the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium ahead of the Olympics.

Sindhu, who defeated China’s He Bing Jiao in the bronze medal match, is happy with her back-to-back medals from the Summer Games. “Honestly, it is great to be the first woman athlete from India to achieve this feat. And more so, I also feel this is a vindication of my self-belief and the result of a complete team effort,” Sindhu says.

P.V. Sindhu resumes training after Tokyo 2020 heroics  

“It has been a really tough journey, especially after the 2016 Rio Olympics. There were lots of ups and downs. I learned a lot, I am very happy to be back with a second Olympic medal.”

The addition of South Korean coach Park Tae-Sang and physio B. Evangeline to her team and the constant support of her parents, greatly benefitted Sindhu in her quest for the second Olympic medal. “This, I must say, is largely possible because of the complete support of parents and the kind of sacrifices they have made. But for them I wouldn't have thus far,” Sindhu says. “I must also thank the support staff. I must give credit to each member who was involved in this fabulous journey.”

“If you have passion for the sport you tend to put in that extra effort and the desire to achieve more and more. Any number of medals (she won one gold, two silver, two bronze in Worlds, one silver and a bronze in Olympics, Asian Games silver,) will only make you more confident and dream bigger.”

The shift of training venue, which came during the midst of the pandemic, had raised a few questions, but Sindhu says: “I am not one of those who will go out to prove someone right or wrong. Self-belief and hard work are my biggest assets. My parents knew what was right for me and there was no looking back once we felt that way. Yes, any decision cannot please all. Ultimately, the goal is important, even though the path and direction you choose may be different.”

The 26-year-old medallist finetuned her game during the pandemic as most international tournaments were called off. “My life has changed after the Rio Olympics. I learned a lot of things. Pandemic, too, taught some harsh lessons. The biggest lesson is to stay calm and composed and keep working hard. I am grateful to coach Park Tae-Sang for all the wonderful training sessions,” she says. “Fortunately, we had enough time to improve skills and technique before Tokyo Games and the bronze medal came as a result of a lot of planning."

She also trained with varied sparring partners in the lead-up to the Olympics. “I must thank the Team Suchitra Academy especially for sending the sparring partners with different styles and techniques to enable me to be ready for any kind of challenge in Tokyo,” she adds.

Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist PV Sindhu returns home to hero's welcome  

Talking about the mental fortitude needed to claim an Olympics medal, Sindhu says: “It was important for me to be focused and stay calm, especially in the medal round of the Olympics. It is a different issue. I couldn’t win the semifinal. Overall, I am really pleased to come back with the bronze. I am proud and happy with the medals I have won in the World Championships and the Olympics. There is no way I am going to be content with what I have achieved.” She now wants to chase that elusive world No. 1 ranking. “I will work hard to achieve that. It is not going to be easy. I will achieve it. In a way, if you do well consistently, your ranking automatically improves,” she says. “If you have passion for the sport you tend to put in that extra effort and the desire to achieve more and more. Any number of medals (she won one gold, two silver, two bronze in Worlds, one silver and a bronze in Olympics, Asian Games silver,) will only make you more confident and dream bigger.”

Sindhu will continue to train at Gachibowli Indoor Stadium as it helped her to have better control over the drift factor and primarily because the conditions there are similar to many of the indoor stadia across the world where the major badminton events are held.

Reflecting on her own game, Sindhu insists that she is a vastly improved player, especially at the net. “If you have noticed, I was more at ease with all those net dribbles and even felt more confident in defence too. If attack was my strong point earlier, now I can say there are a few more weapons in my armoury which should make me a force to reckon with in the days to come,” Sindhu says.

P.V. Sindhu on Tokyo bronze: Decision to train at Gachibowli helped  

“I am really happy with my fitness levels during the Tokyo Olympics. It is never easy to maintain such a standard especially when you are forced to do physical conditioning exercises at home because of the pandemic. This is where I am really thankful to my fitness trainer Srikanth Verma and physio Evangelina for ensuring that my body was equal to the challenges on the court,” she explains.

The Tokyo bronze for Sindhu is just the start of something even bigger. “Tokyo bronze cannot be the end of my journey in the world of badminton for all obvious reasons. The ultimate goal still remains – to win the gold in the 2024 Paris Olympics,” she says. “The planning and preparations for that will begin in earnest after a short break. For the time being, let me bask in this moment of glory of being a double Olympic medallist.”