PV Sindhu to go for gold at Tokyo Olympics - How much possible is it?
Although this sounds like a fairytale, PV Sindhu, actually has the ammunition to clinch a maiden gold and a second Olympic medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
The cards have all been laid out on the table with the badminton draw for the Tokyo Olympics being released on 8th July, 2021 at the National Badminton Centre, England. Leading the pack of Indian shuttlers at the prestigious Games will be 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist PV Sindhu, who will have 2019 World Championships bronze medallist B. Sai Praneeth and dynamic doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who have been silver medallists at the 2018 Commonwealth Games to give her company.
Needless to say, the majority of the focus will be on the lanky shuttler from Hyderabad who will be heading into the Tokyo Olympics, seeded sixth and hungry for a second Olympic medal and most importantly, a glistening gold. PV Sindhu, who has been putting in the hard hours ahead of the Games, training under her Korean coach Park Tae-sang, is raring to have a go at the top honours in Tokyo.
After having come dangerously close to winning a maiden gold medal for India in badminton at the 2016 Rio Games when she clashed against Spanish superstar, Carolina Marin, PV Sindhu will enter Tokyo as a raging medal favourite. Few could have imagined that Sindhu would have gone the distance in 2016 - but she side-stepped the likes of Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying and Japan's Nozomi Okuhara most heroically to earn the spot to vie for gold.
Still urging chills to surface by sheer memory of it - the PV Sindhu vs Carolina Marin clash was a riveting affair spanning over three excruciatingly nail-biting games full of see-saw moments. Although Sindhu made a strong start and bagged the first game, Marin was not to be denied the gold so readily and put up a stiff fight and overturned the match to her favour, winning 19-21, 21-12, 21-15. However, to Sindhu's relief, Carolina Marin won't be present at the Tokyo Olympics to defend her gold and it spells one major obstacle less for the Indian shuttler eager to clinch the yellow metal.
Can PV Sindhu seize the golden dream?
Placed in Group J, the 2019 World Champion does not have to face any major challenges in the group stages of the event. In her gambit are Hong Kong's Cheung Ngan Yi and Israel's Ksenia Polikarpova in the group stage encounters. To Sindhu's credit, both Ngan Yi and Polikarpova are familiar opponents for the Indian shuttler and she enjoys a wins-only head to head lead over both.
While the World No. 34 Ngan Yi can briefly flutter PV Sindhu, it should be an easier task to tame the World No. 58 Israeli player, Polikarpova, against whom Sindhu is scheduled to open her campaign on July 25, 2021.
Emerging on top of her group, PV Sindhu will move on to the knockout stages of the tournament and get magnetically drawn towards trickier opponents. Into the Round of 16, World No. 7 PV Sindhu is expected to lock horns with Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt who handed the 5-time World Championships medallist a defeat this season at the Yonex Thailand Open in January.
However, Sindhu does have an edge over the 23-year-old Blichfeldt and leads their head to head at 4-1 and therefore, should not be having to sweat it out a lot to enter the quarter finals of the Tokyo Olympics.
The first real challenge that awaits PV Sindhu is going to be in the quarters as she will have no option but to spar off against the World No. 5 sprightly Japanese star, Akane Yamaguchi. Backed by home support, Yamaguchi is a steady medal favourite and it would be a daunting task for Sindhu to oust her in a match on her home turf. Sharing a long history on the court, Yamaguchi and Sindhu have squared off 18 times in their career with the World No. 7 player having commanded 11 victories.
From the quarters itself, PV Sindhu needs to be very wary as there are going to be surprise attacks from just about anywhere and the golden dream of hers will have to be protected with all her might. Moving into more dangerous territories in the semi-finals, the 2019 World Champion will be pitched against another familiar opponent - World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying.
Known as the Queen of Deception, the semi-finals won't be easy for Sindhu and she will have to absolutely bring her best game to the table. Lacking an Olympic medal from her illustrious collection, Tai Tzu will be determined to win, in what is probably going to be final outing at the Olympic Games. True, Sindhu had defeated Tai in Rio 21-13, 21-15, in their pre-quarters clash, it won't be such a cakewalk this time around, assuredly.
If Sindhu does manage to overcome the massive hurdles posed by both Yamaguchi and Tai and emerge in the finals and contest in the gold medal match - she will be on the brink of clinching history. First, the chance of being the lone Indian to win two Olympic medals in badminton remains and second, the first Indian shuttler to win a gold, glistens. Perhaps it is sounding a lot like a fairytale right now, but PV Sindhu does have the ammunition to script it for real.
While there are undoubtedly challenges that will be lying in her way, it will be wrong to write off the chances of PV Sindhu winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics. Under the guidance of her Korean coach Park, a more evolved, mature PV Sindhu is expected to enter the Tokyo Olympics with only gold on her mind. Quite the star in big matches, Sindhu has learnt to work well under pressure and the golden dream of hers at the Olympics actually does border a lot close to reality - if only the stars align for this former Olympic silver medallist champion.