PV Sindhu created history by becoming India’s most successful women Olympian when she medalled in her second consecutive Olympic Games, claiming bronze at Tokyo 2020 in badminton women’s singles beating He Bing Jiao of China in straight games. Speaking exclusively to News18 a day after her victory, the 26-year-old spoke about the importance of having a robust support system, especially during the pandemic, and thanked the Government of India and the sports associations for their support.
I am thankful to all the people out there for their love and support, and to the people who believed in me and trusted me that I can do it,” Sindhu told News18. “My family members, sponsors, support staff, basically the entire ecosystem that comes together and works. I am also thankful to the government of India, they supported us especially during the pandemic and Badminton Association of India and the Sports authority,” she said.
While Sindhu made it to the final of the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, losing to Carolina Marin, the shuttler said she definitely felt the pressure heading into Tokyo as one of the favourites to win the gold medal. Even though she won a bronze, she said she is super proud of the moment.
“When the (bronze medal) match was over, I didn’t know what to do; I was literally tired was looking up and after like 5 seconds I shouted. Then the realisation hit, ‘I have finally got it, I have got the medal’. It definitely is a proud moment because back in Rio 2016 it was comparatively very different, than Tokyo, in terms of pressure, responsibility, wanting to win for your country. It (pressure) will always be there, but you know, to just go out there for your country without any pressure, just to give you best and get a medal, that to carry the expectations – it is definitely is different. In Rio, nobody knew me much. Even then I had the world champion medals, but it was my first Olympics. But, here there was expectation because I got the Silver last time around, so people believed I will get it or do better in Tokyo,” said Sindhu.
She was in marauding form during the early stages of the competition and reached the semifinals without dropping a game. But, the No.6 seed could not get the better of World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying in the semis. Going into the bronze medal match, Sindhu revealed that she was sad to miss out on the finals, but was determined to win the medal.
“There was no moment to settle there (in the bronze medal match. Every point was important for both of us and she gave a good fight. Even though I was leading I did not give her anything. She was coming hard, and the difference throughout was just about two points. The pressure was there and I was like ‘I need to get the next point, that all,” said Sindhu, who beat the Chinese 21-19, 21-19.
Talking about her parents, Sindhu added that they must be super happy with the win and because they have been part of her journey, it is a special feeling for them to see the success.
“Their involvement has been so much in the journey, they have been through the ups and downs; we have lost some, won some and it’s not just them; everybody has worked hard, the trainers, physios, and it is a different feeling when you get the success. I am sure my parents are super super happy and I am waiting to see them and meet them.”
On her immediate plans after returning to India, Sindhu said she wanted to enjoy the moment and even though Paris 2024 is on the back of her mind, she will take a bit of time before getting back to training.
“For now, I just want to live in the moment, enjoy and celebrate, at some point I will definitely be back (training) and I hope to play in Paris in three years’ time,” she added.