Year of the Woman

2017 has been a satisfying year: P.V. Sindhu

Badminton champion P.V. Sindhu.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

For any 22-year-old badminton player, a year marked by two gold medals, and three silvers — including one at the Badminton World Championships — would’ve been a remarkably successful one. But P.V. Sindhu isn’t just any other 22-year-old badminton player. She’s India’s most prodigious shuttler. And at this point, she’s probably India’s best. So, there are of course people who wonder if she could have performed even better.

But enough is never enough in this country, and as her coach Pullela Gopichand has stressed over and over, she’s just 22. And Sindhu herself has no regrets with how the year panned out. But, she says, “Winning the Dubai Superseries would have given me greater satisfaction given its stature and the fact that only the top eight battle it out there.” Overall, it’s been an immensely satisfying year, she says. “The high point was the silver in the World Championships.”

Sindhu played 57 matches in 2017, and won 44 — an impressive ratio. She began the year ranked sixth in the world, and ends it ranked third.

She also marked the year winning the India Open in March, her second Superseries title, comprehensively outplaying Spain’s Carolina Marin 21-19, 21-16, and in some ways avenging her loss to Marin in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

And she’s still only 22.

The waiting game

This success doesn’t come without putting away everything else. For her, badminton is a singular focus. But more than anything else, Sindhu knows that she has much to learn. She knows her strengths, and her weaknesses, and over the year, she’s learnt not to rush herself on the court.

“I am more patient now than I was last year, and I am not rushing for the strokes anymore. I’m playing the waiting game more often now.”

In a country where sport is still a male-dominated bastion, much like all else, Sindhu and Saina Nehwal have been bucking the patriarchy and putting a racquet and shuttle firmly within every Indian woman’s grasp. In badminton, unlike any other sport in the country, women players set the benchmarks. And Sindhu says her personal achievements have much to do with the support she got from her parents P.V. Ramana and P. Vijaya, both of whom were international volleyball players. “Honestly, I never felt any inhibitions as a girl when I started playing badminton. I never felt uncomfortable because that backing was always there.”

Despite her age, she feels no pressure being an icon for women and girls looking at a life and career in sports. “I’m glad that I have inspired a generation of young talent to look up to sports as a career, more specifically in badminton. Every success story should be an inspiration, for it doesn’t come that easily to anyone. There are many untold stories behind it,” she says.

The fact that she has stayed in the elite of the women’s circuit for such a long time is a reminder of her consistency, Sindhu says. So where does she see herself in 2018?

“Well, next year is going to be bigger as we have the Commonwealth and Asian Games, as well as the World Championships. The primary objective is to be consistent and once you achieve that, the results will fall in place.”

(With inputs from V.V. Subrahmanyam.)

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 12:30:25 AM |

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