Carolina Marin’s ear-deafening shriek and the ghosts of Rio 2016 still haunts India’s ace badminton player – PV Sindhu. Despite coming so close to the glory, Sindhu failed to cross the line in the final hurdle in the women’s singles badminton final of Rio Olympics. It has been more than three years since that last happened and Sindhu has not only evolved since then but also has emerged as a world-beater and a force to deal with in the arena.
After bagging the coveted World Championship gold, hungrier-than-ever Sindhu has kept an empty space in her trophy cabinet for the elusive Olympic glory. She now aims to fill that vacant spot with the top prize in Tokyo next year. The 24-year-old shuttler clinched the historic World Championship gold at Basel after beating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara 21-7 21-7 in her third successive final.
Before that historic day, the star player faced incessant criticism for losing in the finals of major events such as the Rio Games, World Championships (2017, 2018), 2017 Dubai Super Series Finals, the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Jakarta Asian Games. “It (World Championships gold) takes care of all those losses. People have been talking about my final phobia, how I take pressure in the finals and I can say I gave the answer with my racquet,” Sindhu, who has been recommended for Padma Bhushan, was quoted by PTI in an interview.
“But Olympics is a completely different feeling. Rio (Games) and World Championship gave me different memories, but, yeah, one gold medal is missing, so definitely I will work hard for that and would love to see myself win that Olympic gold at Tokyo.
“There is a vacant space (laughs) in my cabinet for that gold. The Olympic qualification is on and this win will give me the confidence to go further.”
Sindhu, however, says the path to the Tokyo Olympic gold will be a tough one as now her opponents will look to exploit her weaknesses and she will need to add something new to her game to achieve success. “(Rio) 2016 was my first Olympics and nobody knew me much. I was just one of the players but after Rio, everything changed and now after the world championship, everybody will try and learn new things. I should also learn new things in each tournament because people will have some kind of strategy for me,” she said.
Ranked fifth in the World currently, Sindhu has virtually sealed her Olympic qualification. A higher ranking will help her avoid meeting top players when the draw is made at the Tokyo Games but Sindhu said she is unfazed about standings. “Ranking matters because the draw depends on it but I don’t really think about it because if I can play well, it will come up. At the end of the day, you will have to beat these top players again to achieve the gold,” she said.