There was a marked difference in PV Sindhu’s game at the Olympics 2021. Experts believe Sindhu produced her best possible display while winning her second Olympic medal in Tokyo.
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She herself admitted that she was at the peak of her game in the last few weeks and ready to challenge anyone in the world. Barring the semi-final against World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, PV Sindhu looked unstoppable in all her matches at the quadrennial games.
Her scintillating display has won many admirers, including former badminton star U Vimal Kumar. The former national chief coach thinks Sindhu’s newly learnt variations propelled her to win a bronze medal in Tokyo last Sunday.
“Sindhu has got a lot of variations in the strokes now. I am really impressed with the way she played against Danish girl Mia Blichfeldt and Japanese Akane Yamaguchi. Sindhu used subtle drops with good attacking clears and mixed it up with good half-smashes. She has improved her net play and defense too. Sindhu always had a good smash. When you have so many variations in your game, it is always helpful. The newly-learnt variations enabled Sindhu to create history in Tokyo,” said Vimal Kumar.
Sixth seed Sindhu outclassed Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 to seal her spot in the last-eight. The Rio Olympic silver medalist then ousted home favorite Akane Yamaguchi in straight games to storm into the semi-finals.
Interestingly, Blichfeldt posted her maiden win over Sindhu at the Yonex Thai Open earlier this year. Akane Yamaguchi had a better head-to-head record against Sindhu. But Sindhu was on fire and dismissed them with an inspired performance.
Major credit of Sindhu’s success must go to coach Park: Vimal Kumar
59-year-old Vimal Kumar opined that a major part of the credit for Sindhu’s success should go to her coach Park Tae Sang of Korea. Vimal, the 1986 Asian Games bronze medalist, thinks the foreign coach has made a remarkable difference in Sindhu’s game in recent months.
“A major credit should go to Park for Sindhu’s rise. At the moment, Sindhu and Park are gelling really well and that is reflected in the performance of the ace Indian. Coach Park has done a great job and deserves credit for his phenomenal efforts. The role of a coach is so crucial in the development of a player. At the highest level, it is very important because they can learn new things from different coaches. Park has been working with Sindhu for nearly two years now and, in the last six months, he has devoted his entire time to Sindhu. We should appreciate that,” Vimal Kumar said.
When badminton was introduced in the Olympics for the first time in Barcelona 1992, Vimal Kumar had represented the Indian contingent.
Sindhu should aim for gold at 2024 Olympics in Paris: Vimal Kumar
Vimal Kumar feels that, after winning silver (Rio Olympics) and bronze (Rio), Sindhu should aim for a gold medal at the next Olympics in Paris. He said:
“I hope it can be converted to gold in Paris 2024. She is just 26 years old, and by the time the next Olympics happen, she will be 29. I am sure she will be very much there. She just needs to focus on her fitness and keep a good physique. She should plan her program properly and always keep improving. She will definitely go for the gold in 2024.”
A co-founder of the Bengaluru-based Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy, Vimal Kumar said it was high time for the men’s players to deliver top performances at the Olympics. He termed the performance of Indian doubles pair Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy brilliant but feels they were unlucky not to make it to the knock-out stage.