Pusarla Venkata Sindhu on Thursday became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the Olympics. Spain's Carolina Marin beat her 21-19, 12-21, 21-15 at the badminton final on Thursday.
She has come a long way — from a 16-year-old watching Saina Nehwal win the 2012 London Olympics bronze to being India's lone badminton medal hope in the 2016 Games.
Prior to the Games, she said, "The biggest dream I am chasing now is an Olympic medal. I remember watching Saina in London. Then I was ranked World No. 25. I always longed to be there and I am all excited to represent India in Rio.” She broke into the Top 20 in 2012, and is currently ranked no. 10 in the world.
Sindhu scripted a stellar 22-20, 21-19 win against former World No. 1 and London Games silver medallist Wang Yihan to enter the women’s semifinals. Her fierce strokeplay and aggressive cross-court returns have been the highlights of her game so far. She rated her win over the London Olympics silver medallist as one of the best moments of her career.
The bigger reward
She first made her mark in the badminton circles in 2013. She won her maiden grand prix gold at the Malaysian Open, went on to win the first of her hat-trick of titles at the Macau Open. The bigger reward in the form of Arjuna award was the icing on the cake.
With former volleyball players for parents — her father Ramanna is an Arjuna awardee — it is only natural that sports had always been her calling. But why badminton? Inspired by her iconic mentor, Pullela Gopichand’s exploits on court, she started wielding the racquet at the age of eight. She was awarded the FICCI Breakthrough Sportsperson of the Year in 2014 and NDTV Indian of the Year 2014, the year in which she won her second consecutive medal at the World Championships.
In March 2015, P.V. Sindhu became the youngest recipient of the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour.
She is the second-highest-ranked women’s singles player from India after Olympic bronze medalist and No. 2 Saina Nehwal.
With a methodical style of play, considered to be defensive — building up with long rallies to lay seize to a point as and when an opening arises, she has evolved remarkably well to streamline her method towards winning. At the same time, she has recently added a more aggressive facet to her game, being more vociferous and playing attacking shots that put the opponent on the backfoot.