Day two of Goafest 2022 opened with PV Sindhu, a two-time Olympic champion (Bronze in Tokyo 2020 and Silver in Rio 2016), who is currently ranked number seven among badminton players in the world.
Sindhu was in conversation with sports presenter and actor, Samir Kochhar. During her talk, she revealed that even though she’s achieved a lot during her career, it’s just the start of it and there’s a lot more to come.
“The awards and rewards make me feel happy, but they also make me want to go much higher,” revealed Sindhu.
Sports runs in her family, as Sindhu’s parents were both national-level volleyball players.
Sindhu stated that they never forced her to play volleyball and let her pick her interest, which was badminton.
“I’m lucky to have parents like them. They were volleyball players. Badminton was my interest but they were always there to guide me. They keep advising me. It’s always good to get different perspectives from different people. My father has come to tournaments and has seen me play for 15-16 years now."
Sindhu added that she started playing badminton because of the proximity of the volleyball court which her parents used to play on.
“I started playing and my parents asked me to give it a shot. My father told me how badminton is an individual sport, which meant (winning or losing) was all upon me.”
And so, Sindhu joined the academy as an 8-year old.
She added that she got the discipline to play a sport from her parents. “Their hard work and commitment to a sport were important. If you dream about something, you need the discipline to follow it. I’ve followed it and achieved things, but a lot more is to come. Playing that level is hard, but maintaining it is even harder,” said Sindhu.
Journey to success
Sindhu revealed that she set herself short-term targets rather than one of winning Gold at the World Championships or success at the Olympics.
“It was a process of improving year by year. When I started playing, I didn’t think I’d become a world champion or an Olympian. There were short term goals that I set, I wanted to succeed at the U-10, and U-14 levels. 2012 was when I first thought I could become a winner,” she said.
She added, “Representing India was a big thing. I played against a 2008 Olympian champion, and beat her in the year 2012. That’s when I thought I could achieve something.”
And the thought transpired to success as Sindhu bagged Gold in the 2013 World Championship.
Responding to a question from Kochhar about her preparation for tournaments like the Olympics and the World Championships, Sindhu said she takes it from match to match.
“It’s not easy. Each round mattered a lot to me, and I took it match by match. In the final, I thought I played well but unfortunately lost. When I was on the podium I was on cloud nine. A lot of people told me you didn’t lose Gold, you won Silver. When I came back to India, people told me about the reactions in the country and I had tears of joy,” she said.
On her pre-match preparations and rituals, she added, “I visualise who I’m playing against and discuss strategies with my coach for each player. Before I go, I want to just give 100%, because winning and losing are part of life. When I lose, I learn from my mistakes and come back stronger. I just want to give my best.”
Rio or Tokyo
Sindhu bagged a Silver in Rio and a Bronze in Tokyo. When asked to choose which one was bigger for her, Sindhu picked Tokyo.
“Rio was my first Olympics and it was new to me. In Tokyo, there were a lot of expectations. People wanted me to win Gold, but I came back with Bronze. So, because of the expectations and responsibilities, Tokyo was harder,” she said.
Kochhar asked Sindhu to then explain how she picked herself up to play the Bronze medal game after losing in the semi-final.
“When I lost the semi-final, I lost the opportunity to go to the final, but I had an opportunity to prove myself. My coach and my dad called and said what has happened has happened, but told me there’s a big difference between standing on the podium and getting fourth place, and that motivated me.”
Lockdown and its effect on training
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the Tokyo Olympics which were scheduled for June and July 2020 had to be postponed. The decision to postpone the event came a couple of months before it and Sindhu stated that it wasn’t ideal for her preparations.
She said, “We were waiting for it for four years. It was important to stay safe and be at home, and that meant that for a while we didn’t have a place to train. Then the Government helped with permissions to train. Then in 2021, there were speculations about it not happening again. When we went there too, we had to test every day. Imagine testing positive on the day of the semi-final. Thankfully everything went well and I returned with the Bronze.”
Sindhu added that she doesn’t have a toughest opponent and stated that anyone is beatable on a given day.
“Anybody is beatable. When you’re playing against a higher or lower rank opponent, you can’t think that it’s going to be difficult or easy. Who gives his/her best is the winner on the day,” she said.
Stay tuned for a detailed one-on-one interview with PV Sindhu.