Commonwealth Games 2018: Memories of Glasgow loss fresh in her mind, PV Sindhu wary of challenges in Gold Coast
Memories of the heart-breaking loss in Glasgow in 2014 are still fresh in her mind. Touted to win gold, the 19-year-old lanky youngster was up against Canada's Li Michelle in the semifinals. It was her first multi-sport event, the nation's hopes were pinned on her.
However, despite giving it her all, PV Sindhu faltered. In a match that lasted almost an hour, the Hyderabad-based shuttler ended up losing 20-22, 20-22. The disappointment of missing out on playing in the final and having a shot at the gold medal was writ large over her face.
"In 2014, it was my first CWG, and I ended up losing very narrowly. I was very upset, of course, losing to Li Michelle in the semi-finals. You know, from there, I could have actually gone on to the final and even won the gold medal," recalls Sindhu in an exclusive interaction with Sportskeeda.
Since then, though, her journey has been nothing short of spectacular. Her achievements in the last few years, especially the silver medal win at the Rio Olympics, have made her more than just a household name in India. One does not need to be an expert to notice the marked improvement that Sindhu has made since 2014. And, she, herself admits she has learnt a lot over the years.
"Anything can happen on the day, you win some, you lose some. I think you have to come back stronger. I think I have learnt a lot from my mistakes since then," she says.
While the 22-year-old shuttler has progressed a lot in her career in the last four years, winning several accolades along the way, the Commonwealth Games remains a special tournament for her and she cannot conceal her excitement.
"I think the Commonwealth Games is completely different from the other tournaments. We have a mixed team event and then, the individual event. It's always fun. There's not much of time but preparation-wise everything is going well. I'm really excited and looking forward to Gold Coast," she reveals.
On Tuesday, Sindhu had suffered an injury scare during training. Reportedly, she had to hobble off the courts after spraining her ankle. However, her father confirmed that the X-Ray and MRI scans showed no signs of any ligament damage or anything serious and that she would be back on court in a day or two.
"My ankle is getting better. I should be fine by the time the tournament starts," Sindhu gives an update on her injury, further confirming that there is no reason to worry.
On her and India's chances in Gold Coast, she asserts, "I hope we do well in the team event as well as in the individual. We have a really good team and I hope we will be able to give our best. We are all in good form, so, I think we will do well."
Sindhu, who is supported by OGQ, is hands down one of the favourites to take home a medal in the women's singles. In the last one year, she has been in exemplary form, winning the India Open and the Korea Open in 2017 and finishing as runners-up at World Championships, Hong Kong Open and the World Super Series Finals. This year as well, she has started off well, making it to the final of the India Open and the semi-finals of the All England Open.
Owing to her recent form, people expect her to actually go to Gold Coast and win the top prize -- the elusive gold medal. However, she knows that the more she will think about these things, the more it will affect her game.
"There are high hopes and there are responsibilities. Everybody will expect a lot more compared to other tournaments. But it is just one of the tournaments, and each tournament we prepare the same way. If you can play your game, automatically you'll win.
"There's no point in thinking that people expect more from you that creates more pressure on you and then the more you think about it, the more it affects your game. You just have to play freely," she says before adding, "Every year I have been improving step by step, I have been improving my strokes. There's been a lot of changes, so I hope I'll be able to do my best."
'The Commonwealth Games is not as easy as people think'
The World No. 3 knows that there is not much competition at the Commonwealth Games as compared to the other BWF tournaments where the world's best players play, but that does not mean she is complacent.
"Even though it is not as difficult as compared to All England or the Superseries tournaments, it is a very different experience. Of course, the top players like Tai Tzu, Ratchanok and others won't be there, but there are still some very good players like Saina, Li Michelle, Kristy (Gilmour) and some the Malaysian girls," Sindhu names some of her toughest competitors at the upcoming tournament.
"We can't think of any match as easy, because it depends on that particular day, whoever plays well will win on the day. Everybody has their different style of play and everybody has different strategies. I think Commonwealth Games is not as easy as people generally think...on the contrary, it is quite tough," she adds.
This year's Commonwealth Games will see Sindhu shouldering an altogether new responsibilty, something that only one athlete from the country gets to do. She will be the flag bearer of the Indian contingent for the opening ceremony. How does she feel about it?
"Definitely, I'm very happy about it. It will be a proud moment for me and I'm looking forward to it," she signs off.