India, in the last decade, has risen to become one of the major forces in badminton owing to the nation’s exploits in the Olympics and the World Championships in recent years. At the helm of India’s success in the sport is Hyderabad’s PV Sindhu.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu created history by becoming the first Indian badminton player to win a silver medal at the Olympics. She made her way to the final of the Rio Games in 2016 to give India its only Olympic silver medal in badminton.
This wasn’t surprising though. Sindhu had been making headlines with her impressive performances on court from a very young age.
Sport runs in PV’s blood
For Sindhu, sport runs in her blood. Her father, PV Ramana, was a bronze medalist in volleyball at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games while her mother was also a national level volleyball player. But instead of hitting the ball across the net, Sindhu picked up the badminton racquet as child and was backed by her parents who enrolled her at Gopichand’s Badminton Academy run by Indian badminton great Pullela Gopichand.
Sindhu first made her mark in the junior circuit with medals at the Sub-Junior Nationals and All India Ranking Championship. Her success was not limited to Indian competitions as she clinched bronze at the 2009 Sub-Junior Asian Badminton Championship in Colombo and silver at the Iran Fajr International Badminton Challenge in 2010.
All these achievements at a tender age of 15 made Sindhu one of the brightest prospects in Indian badminton.
She continued her rich vein of form in international tournaments by winning gold at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games. The next year, she became the Junior Asian Champion by defeating Nozomi Okuhara, one of the best badminton players currently.
At just 17 years of age, Sindhu broke into the top 20 of the BWF World Ranking. Her skills on court spoke volumes about the talent she possessed and was a sign of greater things to come.
From youth sensation to a global phenomenon
And come 2013, it was the breakthrough year for the Indian shuttler. Apart from winning her first Grand Prix at the Malaysian Open, Sindhu also bagged her first medal at the World Championship when she claimed the bronze medal after losing in the semi-finals. The Hyderabad lass came agonizingly close to winning the World Championship over the next few years.
Two bronze and two silver medals later, Sindhu reached the World Championship finals again in 2019. She defeated Okuhara of Japan, just like she did at the 2012 Junior Asian Championship, to claim her first gold medal and become the first World Champion from India. Prior to her gold at the World Championship, she also won the Commonwealth Games bronze and silver in 2014 and 2018 respectively.
Tryst with Olympics
However, her greatest accomplishment to date is her Olympic silver. Sindhu’s compatriot, Saina Nehwal, had brought home India’s first Olympic medal in badminton by winning bronze at the 2012 London Olympics.
In the years that followed, Sindhu rose through the ranks to become a top contender at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Both women qualified for the Rio Games and bolstered India’s chances of another medal.
While everyone expected Saina to repeat her London heroics, it was Sindhu who brought glory to the nation. Sindhu surpassed Saina’s 2012 feat to take a step closer to gold. She claimed silver after losing to Spaniard Carolina Marin in a closely fought contest.
Despite the loss, Sindhu created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at any individual Olympic event. Sindhu has since been honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour in India, for her monumental feat.
— Pvsindhu (@Pvsindhu1) August 29, 2016
That said, in spite of creating history, a gold at the Olympics still remains a target for the talented Hyderabadi. The 24-year-old shuttler currently ranks seventh in the BWF World Rankings which makes her eligible for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Even though she has experienced a slight dip in form recently, India will be hoping its premier shuttler can find her rhythm again and get her hands on the elusive gold medal in Tokyo.
By Sportz Interactive