Gopichand: Will return Sindhu’s phone, let her enjoy an ice-cream

With ‘Mission Accomplished’, Sindhu can now get back to being another 21-year-old, who would now be able to WhatsApp her friends and enjoy her favourite ice-cream.

"I think she has developed a lot in this tournament. She has a lot of potential to grow further. You should give your best shot. She has done us proud. I’m really happy for her.”   -  PTI

Being the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver is a hard job. It is, however, more difficult to handle the battery of Indian media, but PV Sindhu had put up a smile and answered the same questions a hundred times.

>Read: Sindhu 'on cloud nine'

With ‘Mission Accomplished’, Sindhu can now get back to being another 21-year-old, who would now be able to WhatsApp her friends and enjoy her favourite ice-cream.

“Sindhu did not have her phone during the last three months. The first thing is I would return her phone. The second thing, after coming here for last 12-13 days, I had deprived her from having sweet curd which she likes most. I also stopped her from eating ice-cream. Now she can eat whatever she wants,” an elated Gopi told PTI after Sindhu’s silver winning feat.

>Slideshow: Sindhu's incredible journey to silver

Gopi hailed Sindhu’s work ethic in the days leading up to the Olympics.

“She has had a great last week. The kind of work she has put in the last two months is tremendous. The kind of sacrifices she has made without complaining is fantastic. She deserved to enjoy the moment and that’s what I really wanted her to do. I’m very truly very happy.”

>Read: 'Great that India won its first silver in Rio', say Sindhu's parents

At 21, Sindhu’s journey has just begun and Gopi expects bigger things from one of her favourite students.

“Sindhu is much younger. I think she has developed a lot in this tournament. She has a lot of potential to grow further. You should give your best shot. She has done us proud. I’m really happy for her.”

>Read: Sindhu's parents and their sacrifice

Gopi’s advice to Sindhu has been to think about having won a silver rather than feel disappointed on having missed gold.

“I told her don’t think that you lost it. Remember that we have won a medal. I wanted to tell her this to ensure that she does not forget the last week’s effort that she put in to come to second place on the podium.

“She has done us all proud by the kind of the effort she’s put in. From our side we are happy, I wanted her to enjoy the moment going into the podium. It’s important for me, more than her, that to forget that she lost the match and focus on the fact that she won the medal.”

Although Gopi said that he would have been happier had the national anthem been played at the stadium.

“I just wish that our flag had gone one bit higher and our national anthem was played. But having said that, hats off to Sindhu for the kind of effort she’s put in,” he said. Coming into the tournament as world number 10, the 13th seed Sindhu was a transformed player, even as the poster girl of Indian badminton and London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal made an early exit.

Showing her giant-slaying abilities, the two-time World Championship bronze medallist ousted three players ranked higher than her en route to the final.

Sindhu first beat World No. 8 Tzu-ying Tai in the pre-quarters, World No. 2 Wang Yihan in the last eight and in the semis she breezed past World No. 6 Nozomi Okuhara to assure India the first silver in badminton in the Olympics.

Sindhu, who had a 3-4 win-loss record against Marin going into the final, dreamt higher to upset the two-time world champion and she succeeded somehow to wrap the first game despite trailing 13-16.

But Marin was far superior from being 10-all in the second game to wrap the issue but Gopichand was all praise for his ward.

“To generate that kind of energy going requires something special. She’s been fantastic in all the four matches and she’s fought well in the final as well. I’m very proud of the fact that she gave it all she had. Marin was the better player on the day, Sindhu has learnt a lesson today. Hopefully she will come back stronger the next time.”

From being an All-England champion who lost in the Olympics quarterfinal in Sydney 2000 to coaching two medallists at the Summer Games — bronze through Saina Nehwal London 2012 and now Sindhu going a notch higher with a silver in Rio 2016 — Gopichand could not have asked for more.

“It’s once in a lifetime. Sometime once in a million time and probably for us once in a billion! Very few times that somebody gets an opportunity to stand on that podium. And for somebody to be a part of that journey is very special,” he said.

“I’m very happy, very grateful to the God and the people who supported in this journey. I did not have my phone to reply to the best wishes but things like the Prime Minister’s tweet motivates us to push harder. Everyone has given and tried their best at the Olympics, only few of them have won.

“From our side, we all have tried our best. Hopefully, we will come back stronger and win more but there was no dearth of effort from our side. At this moment, I would really thank the Government of India and SAI for supporting us. It’s a huge effort from a lot of people to get us a medal. I just feel thankful to all of them.

“We would have loved to get the gold but for her first Olympics and the way she played, I feel very very proud.” Sindhu may have returned with a silver after getting under the skin of Spanish World No. 1 Carolina Marin but her coach Pullela Gopichand said the Indian would be the one to watch out for in future.

“She’s not yet played in so many big tournaments and finals to actually make things happen. She’s a strong athlete and will return stronger the next time,” Gopichand said.

“I think Marin played well. She was strong, she kept attacking. Sindhu had her chances. but at crucial time Marin played better.”

Asked what he was telling Sindhu during the match, he said: “It was just important to get our chances and attack well. She made some simple errors and Marin took the momentum from there.”

“The initially flurry of points that Sindhu lost, finishing the game and changing over I think that needs a little bit of experience,” he added.

Both Sindhu and Gopichand gratefully acknowledged the support from all quarters, the government, Sports Authority of India (SAI), the national federation, and everyone associated with the journey.

Gopichand was particularly happy with the role Sindhu’s sporting parents had played.

‘’Her parents played a huge part. God has been kind. You need a bit of luck’’, said Gopi.

The real celebrations would start once Sindhu returns home. The lack of medals from the Olympics for the first 12 days had really brought the focus on the Rio Games back home, and the manner in which Sakshi Malik in wrestling and Sindhu fought for the medals, has caught the attention of the entire nation.

‘’I just want to go back to India’’, said Sindhu, quite eager to see the joy in the faces of people, what with film icon Amitabh Bachchan tweeting that he wanted to have a selfie with her.

Life will really change for Sindhu, Indian badminton and Indian sport, with the silver medal. There will be a more purposeful approach to the World Championships and the next Olympics in Tokyo.