PV Sindhu won India's second medal at the Olympics 2021 when she beat China's He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15 in the women's singles bronze medal match. This makes her the only Indian woman to have won two Olympic medals.
Sindhu's illustrious career also includes an Olympic silver from Rio and a world championship gold, along with several other honors. Yet, the elation of the bronze in Tokyo seems greater than all her previous victories. Perhaps her journey - the constant ups and downs, the controversy with the coach, a pandemic to fight - has made the victory sweeter.
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Sindhu headed to Tokyo with heavy expectations on her shoulders. After all, it's not every day that a head of state asks you to bring back a medal for the country and have an ice-cream with them.
Speaking to the press after the match, Sindhu emphasized enjoying the moment and letting the victory sink in. She said:
“I just want to enjoy this moment. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It is a proud moment for me and I’ll just be in the moment and enjoy it.”
Sindhu also mentioned that this victory was tougher than the Rio Olympics silver medal. Sindhu shared:
“This was the tougher one. I was very young back then, I was a newcomer and people didn’t expect me to win. This year, I had a lot more pressure and responsibility but I think this was different because a lot has happened since then game-wise, so many ups and downs. But getting a medal here is a great feeling.”
Sindhu had won all her matches in straight games until the semifinal. Naturally, the loss to Tai Tzu Ying was tough to digest. On how she overcame the loss and prepared for the bronze medal clash, Sindhu said:
“Yesterday, I was sad. My coach told me that I have another opportunity. He told me that there is a huge difference between a bronze and fourth place. My parents also motivated me. I woke up today and did some stretching. I was constantly thinking of the game. I had to wait the whole day, so it was very difficult to be calm. But that pressure will always be there.”
Once she set foot on the court, PV Sindhu was back to her usual best. Sharing her match strategy, Sindhu said:
“No particular strategy. She’s a left hander and is very deceptive. So it was important to stay in the rally and not make mistakes. It was important to be patient. In the first game, it was important to maintain the lead. The second game was neck to neck, I took a small lead and maintained that and thankfully killed the game. I was just calm and composed and gave my best. He [Bingjiao] is also a good player and was playing good since the first point. But overall, I’m extremely happy I got a medal for my country.”
PV Sindhu - The fourth female badminton player to win medals at back-to-back Olympics
With the win, Sindhu is in an elite club of shuttlers who have won medals at successive Olympics. She also became the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals. She said:
“Well, I’m extremely happy. Put in a lot of effort. When you put in the effort and win, you feel like on cloud nine. I have no words. My parents, sponsors and everyone else have put in a lot of effort. We’ve been waiting for this and it feels good to be here.”
Sindhu also thanked her coach, Park Tae-sang, for his contribution in the win.
"My coach is happy. He put in a lot of effort and I would like to thank him. In this pandemic, he was with me all the time. He would have been missing his family [in Korea]. He always believed in me and we’ve finally done it. I just had tears and then went to my coach and hugged him."
When asked about a third Olympic medal, Sindhu let out a shy chuckle and expressed her desire to just stay in the moment.
“I am just in the the moment. Let me be there for a while. Yes, definitely we’ll start but not now.”
As a top professional, Sindhu knows that there is still plenty left to learn and improve on. She emphasized the need to learn from every match to prepare well for the future. She added:
“Yes [it is very important to keep learning]. Since 2016, I’ve improved already. Every day is a new process and I still have so much to learn. You win at times and lose at times, but you have to remember to keep learning.”
With another medal in her kitty, Sindhu has her eyes set to only move upwards from here. She knows what it takes to stay at the elite level of badminton and will be looking forward to reaching greater heights.
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