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Badminton

'Aim is to win a medal, it's not impossible to achieve': PV Sindhu ahead of Paris Olympics

In her quest to achieve a hat-trick of Olympic medals, PV Sindhu, currently training in Saarbrucken, Germany, is leaving no stone unturned.

Aim is to win a medal, its not impossible to achieve: PV Sindhu ahead of Paris Olympics
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PV Sindhu will be chasing her third successive medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics. (Photo Credit: BWF)

By

Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 8 July 2024 10:15 AM GMT

With the Paris Olympics less than a month from the curtain raiser, two-time Olympic medal-winning shuttler PV Sindhu is leaving no stone unturned to stand a chance to achieve a hat-trick of medals.

"My aim is to win a medal. It is not impossible to win my third medal in the Olympics. I have learnt a lot from my mistakes in the recent past. I have to give my 100 per cent," said Sindhu during an interaction conducted jointly by the Sports Authority of India, the Indian Olympic Association and the Badminton Association of India.

Sindhu won a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, becoming the only Indian woman to win two Olympic medals.

Now she aims to add the third consecutive medal to her cabinet, but attaining the feat would be a tough ask for Sindhu, who dropped out of the top ten and is currently ranked 12th in the BWF World Rankings.

'I'm in great shape'

Sindhu is well aware of the challenge in a field that is being dominated by Asian shuttlers like An Se Young, Chen Yuifei, Tai Tzu Ying and Spanish Carolina Marin, to who Sindhu lost the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

But Sindhu is an experienced cog, and she knows how to triumph in a marquee event like that of the Olympics.

"I believe at the Olympics it is going to be very different. It depends on, on that day, who plays well and the best wins I feel. I don't want to compare with others. But looking at my form, I'm definitely in great shape, mentally and physically," said Sindhu, who is currently training in Saarbrucken, Germany.

The former World No. 2 has been struggling to revive her old charm since she suffered a stress fracture on her left ankle at the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Her last title on the BWF World Tour apparently came at the Singapore Open, also in 2022.

She also could not win against any of the top shuttlers in the world since then. Her losing streak against World No. 1 An Se Young stands at 7-0, with the latest defeat coming at the All England Open.

Similarly, she has been winless against Marin since 2018.

Countering wobbly form

But when it comes to the Olympics, Sindhu says, it is a different ball game and she is a force to reckon with.

"You have to play every player differently. I think the strategy is going to be very different for each player. With Chen Yufei, it's going to be different. With An Se Young, it's going to be different. It also obviously depends on the draws, how, with whom are you going to play and accordingly decide how to play and obviously discuss with the coach," she stated.

"But, of course, looking forward to the Olympics, my aim obviously would be to get a medal. I am hoping for the best," added Sindhu.

In her first appearance in the final in more than a year at the Malaysia Masters in May, Sindhu lost to Asian champion Wang Zhi Yi in a three-game duel.

Apparently, Sindhu is looking vulnerable in three-game contests more often now. This year, she lost to Chen Yu Fei, Supanida Katethong, Han Yue, Marin and Wen-Chi Hsu and got knocked out of BWF World Tour events.

Learning from experience

Noting that Sindhu said one of her greatest learning from the Asian leg of the World Tour events is that she has to stay ready for long and three-game contests.

"I need to be on court for a longer period of time. My matches are not being easy. And especially when I started my Asian tour, almost every match was went up to three games.I need to be physically strong as well to compete for a longer period of time. And those matches went up to like more than an hour," said Sindhu.

"Obviously, nobody wants it to be three games. Everyone wants to finish in two games. But, you know, due to the shuttles, due to the court conditions, sometimes it might go to three. But you have to be prepared for longer matches every single time," observed Sindhu.

"I have learnt to be a lot more patient, especially from the Asian circuit before this Olympics. There would be no more short duration matches, no more expectation of easy points and no match being considered over, despite having a big lead, till the match is actually won,” she explained.

“You need to be smart and really work hard. I feel like I'm getting there. I am not overconfident, but definitely wiser and more smarter and hoping to win another medal,” said the 28-year-old.

“Each and every game is crucial and I don’t want to focus only on winning a medal. I will have to play at my best for sure,” she added.

When asked about her vulnerability from 18-18 or 19-19 in the third game, Sindhu said, "When you're 18 all, there is going to be pressure. You want to win every single point. At that point of time, there's no, there's nothing like a particular strategy because it depends on the game also. If it's third game, 18 all, you know, at that point, you want to play safe and you want to get the point."

“I am aware of the fact that I can do much better. It is not that I am not able to finish off matches. Yes, you lose matches despite what looks like winning leads and sometimes you end up winning despite trailing. So, my focus will be consistency,” she said talking about her inconsistent form.

Padukone, the coach

"Prakash (Padukone) sir has been seeing my matches and he's been telling me a few things. If I'm making any mistakes. And at that point, you know, whatever mistake I'm doing or, you know, how do I need to play that stroke? That's what he explains," said Sindhu, who moved to Bengaluru from the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad in January this year.

Explaining how Padukone has been helping her, she said, "So, when we also watch match together or when he sits behind me, especially in the last All England and French Open match when, for the first time, he was sitting for me and his inputs were quite simple and not that I can't remember or not that I can't play. But he just always told me that, you know, just play freely and just give your best."

Currently training at Hermann-Neuberger Sportschulein Saarbrucken, Germany as part of her preparations for the Paris Olympics, Sindhu said her decision to train abroad was a calculated move. She aims to adapt to the conditions early and stay focused.

"Prakash sir, and we all discussed and thought, it will be a good place, it is near to Paris and peaceful, it is in between nowhere, so I am much more focussed," said Sindhu.

"I have taken a few sparring partners and have a team and currently training here has been very peaceful. I can focus even more before the Olympics," she added.

Talking about her strategy for the Paris Olympics, the star shuttler said, "Obviously, I can’t do what I did in those two editions. I know all eyes will be on me. I need to be smarter. I should know that it is not going to be any easy matches for sure.

“But the big plus is I have the experience on my side and I am really patient enough now for the big challenge," she observed.

Widening attacking and defensive expanse

As the game is evolving fast, Sindhu is busy adding variations to her game to add a surprise element.

"The game has changed a lot now. There are more rallies now with emphasis on strong defence. Every player is very strong, mentally and physically prepared for those long matches,” she observed.

"My (foreign) coach Agus (Dwi Santoso) has been taking care of that, my trainer has been taking care of my physical part. I am working on all the strokes, whether it is defence, or attack or netplay, it is important to be perfect in all things," said Sindhu.

"So I'm not focussing on just one stroke or technique, because you never know what it is going to be, there are players who are smart enough to change and move to plan B.

"So you need to be prepared for it and I am focusing on practising each and everything to make everything perfect - each stroke, all techniques," she signed off.

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