The sacrifices and pains endured by PV Sindhu on her path to greatness
While most people aged 21 are just getting out of colleges and contemplating their future, the superhuman PV Sindhu has an Olympic Silver medal in her kitty.
Ask any 21-year-old to stay away from his/ her phone and you would never hear the end of it! Sindhu was also forced to stay away from her phone and her favourite sweet curd, all because her coach, Pullela Gopichand wanted her to focus only on one objective, success at Rio 2016.
Now that that she has achieved a miraculous feat, normalcy shall return and she would get back to being a 21-year-old girl, albeit for a brief while, until she gets going again to accomplish greater things in the future.
In some ways, her rise to fame is quite similar to Sakshi Malik. Malik had to play second fiddle to Geeta Phogat before eventually getting past her. Similarly, Sindhu too found herself in the shadow of Saina Nehwal, who had brought laurels to the nation back in 2012, with her number 1 ranking making her the golden girl.
Sindhu has now written a fairytale for herself and established a unique space for herself in Indian sporting circles.
While Sakshi Malik had brought a Bronze late in the previous night, Sindhu brought joy to the nation when she outwitted Japan’s Okuhara the following evening and confirmed that India would go a at least one colour better at Rio 2016.
Sindhu now becomes the 1st Indian woman to bag Silver and cemented her status as a Diamond in the hearts of the Indian people.
Sindhu put in a brave fight and despite not being able to bring out her best in the initial game, knicked it, showing the right kind of spirit needed to win. However, just like champions retaliate, world number 1 Carolina Marin struck back with vengeance, claiming the second game in no time.
It was again in the third game that Sindhu looked like getting back to her best but it was not to be as the Spaniard was just the better player on the dayand won the match and the Gold.
But, what Sindhu had done on course to the final was immense. Beating the likes of number 8 seed Tai Tzu-ying in straight sets and then getting the better of World No. 2 Wang Yihan was an incredible thing in itself.
The young Indian lass then went one step ahead when she beat the All England Champion and in-form Nozumi Okuhara in the semi-finals to setup a summit clash with Marin.
Sindhu wasn’t seen as a serious contender before the start of the Olympics and the nation had rested all their hopes on Saina Nehwal, but the girl from Hyderabad rose from the ashes and put in a performance to savour.
She was at her clinical best and her aggressive badmintion and positive mindset saw her get past the strongest of players and put an end to the Chinese dominance as this was the first time in the last few year that the Chinese flag wasn’t on the podium in women’s badmintion.
Sindhu worked hard on her strengths and played her drops and cross court shots to great effect and foxed everyone on court. It wasn’t just her game, but her attitude and spirit which calls for applause. She brought a new outlook to the game and showcased there are no pre-winners.
With a positive attitude, aggressive spirit and great finesse in play, a true champion has emerged out of Rio, who looks all set to script some marvellous chapters in times to come.
Her pumping of the fist, speaking to herself, expressing herself on the court; all things that were synonymous with Sindhu at Rio, showed an outlook never seen before in Indian Olympians.
She was brutal in finishing games and looked to decimate opponents, things that earlier used to happen to Indian athletes, but Sindhu flipped the script.
A look back into her preparations tells us a lot. Operation Rio began in 2015 when Gopichand decided to appoint a fitness expert and a weight trainer to work on Sindhu. He also wanted Sindhu to develop aggression, and so made her scream right in the middle of her practice session 10 months back, refusing to continue the session until she had screamed.
A very shy person by nature, Sindhu was reduced to tears, and had to go and scream before she could resume her practise. That is the sort of toughness her coach wanted to inculcate in her.
Gopichand also believed Sindhu’s father, being a sportsman himself would be the ideal candidate to work on her mental aspect. Her father would play a huge part everyday with some pep talk and mental strength conditioning.
Apart from constantly talking to his daughter about her game, Sindhu’s father also used to wake up at 3 in the morning and drive her to Pullela Gopichand’s training academy at 4 am every morning. Mr. PV Ramanna also took off 8 months from his work to ensure he does everything necessary for Sindhu to be focused on the Olympics.
His father followed her everywhere she went and kept on working on the project named Operation Rio. That’s the level of dedication her team had from the start and rightly so, as Rome wasn’t built in a day nor are champions made in one!
It was back in 2013 when Sindhu won the Bronze medal in the World Championships. Her tone then revolved around getting ready to face Saina Nehwal, which was brought to the forefront with the inaugural edition of the Badminton League.
She has matured tremendously since then and is now a top player in her own right. Her interviews today focus only on her, her medal, respect for Saina and her achievement.
This is the kind of maturity she has developed in the last few years and to think, she’s only 21! Her future is very, very bright and all this bodes well for a glorious period for India in Badminton.
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