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Badminton

PV Sindhu, the raging torchbearer of Indian badminton

Sindhu is the only Indian woman to win two Olympic medals in as many appearances. At the Paris Olympics, she will look to complete a hat-trick of medals.

PV Sindhu, the raging torchbearer of Indian badminton
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PV Sindhu is a two-time Olympic medallist. (Photo Credit: Badminton Photo/BWF)

By

Bhabesh Agarwalla

Updated: 8 July 2024 5:14 AM GMT

In the realm of Indian Olympic sports, one of the tallest figures is PV Sindhu, the only Indian woman to win two Olympic medals in as many appearances.

The ace shuttler is now ready to vie for her third medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist and Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist in 2021, Sindhu qualified for the Paris Olympics quite comfortably, finishing 12th out of top 16 in the Road to Paris Olympics rankings maintained by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Sindhu's qualification not only added another chapter to her illustrious career but also raised India's hopes for a continuation of the trend of a medal in badminton at the forthcoming Olympics.

However, life was not so glamorous for Sindhu growing up as she had to travel around 30 km daily to reach her training base.

PV Sindhu, the younger of two daughters of P.V. Ramana and P. Vijaya, both national-level volleyball players, grew up in a sporting atmosphere at home.

Despite accompanying her parents to volleyball practices and matches, she fell in love with badminton at six after watching Pullela Gopichand win the 2001 All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham.

Early promise

At eight, she got her initial training from Mahboob Ali and SM Arif before moving to the Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad to hone her skills under the guidance of legendary shuttler turned coach Gopichand.

Sindhu showed promise early by clinching titles in the all-India ranking tournaments in the under-10 singles and under-13 doubles categories. Her dominance continued as she secured the gold medal at the 51st National School Games of India in the under-14 category.

Her dedication fetched her victories in national and international tournaments, including a bronze at the Sub-Junior Asian Badminton Championships in 2009 and notable performances at junior events like the Junior World Badminton Championships in 2010.

The arrival

Sindhu graduated to the senior level winning the Maldives International Challenge in 2011. The following year, she clinched the Asian Junior Badminton Championships by defeating Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the final. She became the first Indian to win a junior Asian title.

Soon after, she was set to play in the China Masters where she promised her sister to win against the newly crowned Olympic Champion Li Xueri of China.

In a display of skills and innate confidence, she defeated Li Xueri in the quarter-finals and immediately texted her sister, ‘Divyaaa akkaaa I won ufff’ ( Sister Divya, I won). In the very next round, however, she bowed down to another Chinese shuttler Jiang Yanjiao.

But the announcement of her arrival was loud and clear.

Ruling the world

By the near end of 2013, Sindhu had already become world number fifteen and was seeded tenth at the 2013 World Championships where she stunned everyone by winning a bronze medal, the second-ever World Championships medal for India after Prakash Padukones's heroics in 1983.

After that, Sindhu never looked back, achieving a series of victories: a bronze at the Asian Championships and the World Championships in 2014 and 2015 respectively, and a silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Her ascendency continued. She won back-to-back silver medals at the World Championships in 2017 and 2018. An identical performance followed at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in 2018.

Due to her frequent runner-up finishes, she was regarded as the ‘Silver Queen’.

Following this, she shut the critics in a stunning victory against Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the final of the World Championship in 2019, crushing her opponent 21-7,21-7 in just 40 minutes to clinch the gold medal.

Sindhu continued her superb run and clinched a bronze in the Covid-19 pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

The outstanding performances in these various events across the globe have made Sindhu a global icon. She is now one of the highest-paid women's athletes in the world.

Sindhu has received almost all the possible civilian awards conferred by the Indian government, including the Arjuna Award in 2013, Padma Shri in 2015, Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in 2016, and Padma Bhushan in 2020.

But Since mid-2022, Sindhu has been constantly grappling with injuries, an unfortunate phenomenon that an athlete has to go through.

She returned to the scene leading India to a victory in the Asian Team Championships in 2024, a first for India, and followed that by reaching the final of the Malaysian Masters.

Going ahead, Sindhu's goals will be to regain her top form and perform at her best in the Paris Olympics. With her relentless determination, she will aim to add another Olympic medal to her medal cabinet and continue inspiring millions around the world.

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