Hyderabad: August 25, 2019. This date would remain in the minds of every sports lover of the country. It was on this red-lettered day PV Sindhu had conquered Nozomoi Okuhara of Japan to become the first Indian to clinch the badminton World title. In a devastating final in Basel, Switzerland, Sindhu decimated the Japanese 21-7, 21-7.
In the next couple of days, Sindhu will celebrate the one year anniversary of her epic World title. She had created history and was also the only player after China’s Zhang Ling to win all three medals (bronze, silver and gold) in the World championship.
“It is already one year and those few memories I cannot forget. I never expected to win. But I had the desire and goal to win the gold after two silver and two bronze medals. I thought I should win this time keeping in mind the break of two years because of the Olympics this year which unfortunately did not happen due to Covid-19,” said Sindhu in an exclusive interview to Telangana Today.
Talking about that final, Sindhu said to herself that she should not leave this one. “It is time to get the gold. I knew Okuhara would be tough and it would be a long match. It turned out to be one-sided one. I think I handled the pressure very well that day. I missed it in 2017 and after that we played a few matches, which I won a few and she a few. I thought I should give 200 per cent to win the gold as I lost in 2017. I was prepared for the long battle. But from the first point, I played and dominated the match. Even though I won the first game easily, I thought Okuhara would fight back. But I took control of the proceedings with a measured and aggressive game.”
For Sindhu the final jinx was playing on her mind. “But I broke that jinx when I won the World Tour Finals. Till then people were talking about the final phobia. That World Tour Finals was a big confidence booster for this final. I think I could answer my critics with this performance. I was happy that I could do it although till then 2019 was not good for me as I lost many of my matches in first round or in the quarterfinals. All that did not matter to me and the World Championship was my target. I really prepared very well for this meet.”
She agreed that fitness is the key to any success. “You may have the skill and the strategy but fitness plays a significant role because some matches stretch more than one hour. Apart from my practice session at the SAI-Gopichand Academy, I focused a lot on fitness at Suchitra Academy under Srikanth Verma. It is important to maintain the fitness.”
With 2020 Tokyo Olympics being postponed to next year, Sindhu will now hold the World crown for next three years. The World championship is not held in Olympic year. As the Tokyo Olympics will be held next year, the worlds will not be conducted in 2021 also and the next Worlds will be held in 2022. “I will be champion for three years. It feels really good. It is tough on retain any title particularly when it comes to Olympics or World Championship as every player will be ready. I can’t take anything easy being a world champion.
“Of course getting a gold in World Championship or Olympic gold will be my next priority. My immediate target is to change the silver to gold in the Tokyo Olympics next year. Who doesn’t want to win gold? I don’t want to take any pressure but I will prepare myself to stay at the top.”
The post Covid-19 will be different according to Sindhu. “We will be facing different challenges. We need to follow the SOPs and most importantly wear mask and sanitisation of the equipment and venues are very crucial before and after finishing the game. When tournament starts, we have to get used to where the spectators would not be there. The players will be bit apprehensive. As players we have to understand the situation.”
The 25-year-old also said the game will change. “The strategies will be different. There might be new strokes or new strategies or new skills. I’m an experienced player now. The game style will be the same. I will continue to be an aggressive player.”
She pointed out that there will be non-stop badminton once the tournaments start. “I’m prepared for the new challenges. We have to be physically and mentally strong. The top one to ten players are of same standards. We play each other, there will be tough competition.”
Sindhu said after Rio Olympics silver medal her life got completely changed. “After winning the World Championship, there is an extra confidence level in me. Even then there will be a few setbacks. Criticism would not affect me. It is people’s choice but my job is to win matches and titles.”
The Indian star revealed that Sindhu as a brand has been good till now. “But there are many more titles to win. As a brand, I will improve and win lot more.”
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