You know this time last year, the whole week was fantastic for me, beating every opponent, Sindhu said
After a gladiatorial battle in which PV Sindhu and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi pushed each other to their limits, leaving the crowd in Dubai’s Sheikh Hamdan Sports Complex battling a sea of emotions during that unforgettable title decider of the 2017 BWF Super Series Finals, the Indian star struggled to hold back the tears.
Having lost yet another chance to win the elusive gold at the highest level, the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist was lost for words when a journalist asked her to make sense of that heartbreaking (21-15, 12-21, 19-21) defeat in Dubai.
Whispers about her apparent ‘final phobia’ had already been growing, but the talented shot-maker had the last word with a straight sets win over Yamaguchi’s compatriot Nozomi Okuhara in the final of the same event the following year.
But it was on this day (August 25) last year, that Sindhu galloped into history books by becoming the first Indian to win the World Badminton Championships with a straight sets win over Okuhara, laying the ghosts of her painful final defeats in the previous two editions of the tournament.
Now as the 25-year-old Sindhu celebrates the first anniversary of her historic triumph, Khaleej Times spoke to her over phone on her journey, dealing with expectations from 1.3 billion people in India and how she spent her time in the Covid-19 lockdown.
It’s been one year since you won that World Championships gold. How does it feel when you look back?
Yes, (it) makes me very happy. I think this one year has gone very fast and obviously it was a very memorable thing for me, the world championship gold. It was also a much awaited win because I had two bronze and two silvers, and finally I got that gold, so I am very happy. You know this time last year, the whole week was fantastic for me, beating every opponent. I am very happy that I completed it finally, because lot of people were saying that ‘we want that gold’ and you know that ‘Sindhu always wins that silver’. So it’s kind of nice I gave them the answer and I feel very happy that I got that gold.
You have finally got back to training now after the lockdown period. Are you happy with your rhythm and form?
When there was lockdown, I was training at home, but yes, we were not playing badminton. But since I was training at home, it was not too hard for me to get back to the court. Of course, on the court, I had to improvise a few things, I had to train for a couple of weeks. Now I feel I am in good form. I am learning and practising all of my strokes and making them perfect and hope as soon as the tournaments start, everything will go well.
Your incredible consistency at the highest level – three straight World Championships finals, Olympic final, BWF Super Series finals, Asian Games final and the Commonwealth Games final – means there is huge expectation from you every time you go for a big event. Now people are already expecting a gold from you at next year’s Olympics. Perhaps after Sachin Tendulkar, no other Indian athlete has had to carry such weight of expectations in India…
Yes, the expectations and responsibilities are always there. It’s just that you know, I have to go out there and be focused and give my best. I am sure that every time I enter the court, everybody wants me to win, everybody wants me to get a medal. I understand sometimes it’s not possible because every player can’t win all the time and can’t perform at their 100 per cent all the time. Sometimes it might be your day or sometimes it might not be your day, but you have to understand the situation accordingly, and you also need to take it in a very positive way like when you lose, you need to come back much stronger next time. But yes, definitely the responsibility is always there and yes, when you enter the court, you just play for yourself and if you win it’s for you and also for the people. And if you think that people want you to win and that would add extra pressure, then you will definitely be under lot of pressure. So when you go on to the court, you have to just concentrate on giving your 100 per cent.
AT LAST: PV Sindhu celebrates after winning the World Championships last year. (AFP file)
Q. Finally, looking on the bright side during this pandemic, you finally got to spend quality time with your family…
Yes, this is the first time I got to spend such a long time with the family at home because always you are like going for practice and comeback and go for tournaments and come back again. But now I am getting this opportunity to spend time with the family, spending time with my nephew and learning about cooking and painting. So lot of new things are keeping me busy. So yes, I have enjoyed, but we need to also understand that we need to be careful and stay at home and also stay positive. Lot of people might be thinking what next, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you have to understand the situation and stay positive.
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