When PV Sindhu beat Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in the World Badminton Championship final on August 25, she not only became the first Indian to become a badminton world champion but also broke the jinx of losing in the finals. Since her loss in 2016 Olympic final, 24-year-old Sindhu lost in 10 finals, including two WBCs.
On August 25, in tennis star Roger Federer’s home town, Basel, Sindhu took a bare 37 minutes to demolish Okuhara in what many said was a one-sided final. The Hyderabad girl had lost to the same opponent in the 2017 WBC final after a game of 110 minutes, the longest final in tournament’s history.
After the victory, there was an outpouring on social media platforms, with everyone worth their salt congratulating her for the historic win. But Sindhu was thinking about her mother, P Vijaya, who had her birthday the day India woke up to a new badminton champ.
“Happy birthday mother,” she said. “I thought I would gift her something. I never thought it be the world championship gold medal,” she added as she made Sunday her own version of Mother’s Day.
This has not come easily to her. It took a lot of grit, pain and hard work for her and her parents to come this far. Her mother gave up her full-time Railways job for Sindhu and father, PV Ramana, would travel with her every day 120km, two rounds to Gopichand Academy and back, through dense Hyderabad traffic. This meant waking at 3am every day to reach the academy by 4am.
According to Badminton Association of India joint secretary A Chowdary, Sindhu’s father massages her feet when she gets tired from all the practice and accompanies her to wherever she goes.
For last two years, Sindhu has been training with strength trainer Srikanth Verma Madapalli about whom she made a special mention during her interviews post victory in Basel. Her coaches say she is a coach’s delight – asks no questions, does whatever she is told to do.
After her 2017 world championship loss, her conditioning coach changed her fitness regime, focusing more on plyometric exercises. As a result, in the Sunday’s game, she was a changed Sindhu: aggressive, precise and attacking the lines.
Badminton legend Prakash Padukone said she has to maintain this form and fitness till the Tokyo Olympics next year. “Qualifying for the Olympics is not an issue. Peaking is. That ought to be her prime target now,” he told The Times of India.
Pullela Gopichand also said the aim is now to get an Olympics gold. “She will be featuring in several Super Series tournaments but we have to work hard towards winning another Olympic medal,” he said.
In 2016, Sindhu won the silver medal in Olympic as she lost to Carolina Marin. Earlier, Saina Nehwal won a bronze in the 2012 London Olympics. Nehwal is the only Indian woman and overall second Indian to have world No. 1 ranking after Prakash Padukone. Sindhu’s highest ranking so far has been world No. 2 (in April 2017).