Pusarla Venkata Sindhu has been a revelation for India at the international badminton circuit. Apart from being the world No. 2 women’s shuttler and the and the only Indian badminton player to have ever appeared in an Olympic final, she would easily feature among the 10 sought-after women badminton players in the world. Sindhu has been nominated for the Padma Bhushan award. She is appointed as the Deputy Collector of Krishna district in Andhra Pradesh and is the brand ambassador of Swachh Andhra Mission.
The Day After News Feature and Editorial Services (DANFES) caught up with the Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu. Edited excerpts:
So how do you handle all these responsibilities at a young age?
I am really happy about my achievement, but this is only the beginning. I would like to thank the government and the sports ministry for having nominated my name for the Padma Bhushan. I have achieved a lot, but there is immense scope for improvement. I will keep working harder. Since I have achieved something, the expectations are much higher. Previously, people were like ‘she might win the tournament,’ but now it’s like ‘she should win the tournament.’
How much share of your success you would give to your coach Pullela Gopichand’s Badminton Academy?
I have been associated with the academy since the age of 10. I am really lucky that I got such good coaches and everything I wanted, right from the infrastructure to proper coaching. We should have coaches like the ones in the academy. It takes years of practice to become a World No. 1 or No2. My coaches have always been on my side, motivating me to try harder and harder every day, which is not easy.
So, you don’t have any problem in giving full credit to the Pullela Gopichand’s Badminton Academy for all your success?
(Smiles) Not everyone can go to Gopichand Academy or afford to get trained in such reputed academies. But at the same time, being in Gopichand’s academy won’t guarantee you a medal. Champions are made — you have to work on your basics initially and work hard to become a champion.
India is being introduced to many premier leagues these days. Do you feel the leagues genuinely help the respective sports to grow?
We have Premier Badminton League (PBL) for our sport. I think it really helps everybody, especially the junior players. They get to play with top players from different countries and they play at international standards. They learn a lot from these players. But for the league, they won’t get a chance to interact with them frequently. We also get to learn a lot from other players and coaches because their mentality, strategy and attitude are all different. We get to play as a team and it’s a different experience all together.
India is a cricket crazy nation. Do you think Badminton has reached such a level that an aspiring player can take up badminton as a career?
Definitely… it wasn’t the case sometime back. It was only cricket that got attention. After the Olympics outing, everybody wants to get into badminton. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve what you want, but you have to make few sacrifices in life. And you have to work hard to keep up your good work.
You are going to play in the National Championship coming November. How does she feel about coming back to the national level after playing at the international circuit?
It is going to be different. Since we are at the senior level, we don’t know much about the junior level. But I think the junior players have improved a lot and it’s going to be a good tournament. There are many upcoming players and you never know, anybody can do anything at any moment.
While you are making headlines with your success, your rivalry with Japanese counterpart Nozomi Okuhara too has become talk of the town. What you have to say on this rivalry?
Rivalry is always there on the court because the competition is really high. Out of the top 20 players, anybody can win on any day. I lost against her (Nozomi Okuhara) in the World Championships and won in the Korea Open Super series and lost again in Japan. The World Championship was one of the longest matches in my career. I don’t have any regrets, but sometimes, I think if I had won, it might have been different.It was just not my day, I played all the strokes, but, it just wasn’t my day . In badminton, it’s not about the first game, it’s about every point you win. Each point is extremely important. Nozomi has been playing really well.
On a parting note, what would you say to the parents who want their children to become a badminton player like you?
Earlier, parents wanted their children to become a doctor or an engineer. But now, they want to support their children in sports and want them to be champions. Support of parents is crucial. My parents have always supported and motivated me and have been on my side. The child should be really interested in the sport he or she wants to play and work hard to be successful in the long run.