Tokyo Olympics Prediction: PV Sindhu wins a medal when it matters the most
In a career sequinned with victories, World No. 7 and 2016 Rio Games silver medallist, PV Sindhu will be a steady favourite at the Tokyo Olympics in Badminton as she enters it with a revamped, mature outlook.
Badminton has seen a meteoric rise in India with Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu becoming its poster girls, swiftly trading the baton of success at every intermediate step - dutifully fetching medals from the Olympics. With just about half a month left before the Tokyo Olympics begin and PV Sindhu, once again gets ready to lead the charge of Indian badminton at the upcoming Games, the pressure meter will spike for the Hyderabad girl.
Being the lone representative from India in the women's singles at the Tokyo Olympics, PV Sindhu will be extremely eager to get her hands on a second Olympic medal after her silver win at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
With a champion mentality in place, the reigning World No. 7 star shuttler will have to shoulder the hopes of an entire nation as she sets sail for Tokyo. A regular face in important finals - ranging from the World Championships to the BWF events and even, the Olympics, PV Sindhu is familiar with the grind of such crucial do-or-die encounters and she has been known to deliver, with panache.
Seasoned by losses that left her graced with a silver, PV Sindhu has picked and dusted herself off and enamoured her career instead by wins, tempering her as a stronger, evolved and more mature player. Always finding a way to get into the deep stages of a tournament, PV Sindhu has learnt by trial and error and ultimately, experience how to manage pressure and expectations and at the same time, play her A-game.
Woman of the moment - the spontaneity of PV Sindhu
When PV Sindhu is not making jaws drop with her agility on the court - stretching in perfect symmetry to reach for the most difficult shots, the lanky Hyderabad girl is usually powering triumphant smashes and channelling her aggression with acute precision.
With the ability to mix up her game, switch styles and confuse the pace and rhythm of the opponent, PV Sindhu does not play a settling game. As it is badminton is heavily dependent on reflexes and the 26-year-old is well-armed in this department and uses it as her force maxima to go toe-to-toe with the very best in the business.
For a long time now, the badminton camp in India has been at a loss as to which side to pick - Saina Nehwal, the trusted warhorse or PV Sindhu, the blazing force. While Nehwal's career started getting peppered with injuries, the attention and consequently expectations began to mount up for Sindhu. It has been quite some time now and when it comes to Indian badminton, PV Sindhu is still considered as India's best bet at the big stages.
Pressure can be a lot to handle for any athlete and PV Sindhu has shed a tear one too many when she crumbled under it during the early days of her illustrious career sequinned with rave victories and painful losses. However, over the years, the student of Pullela Gopichand has grown and has a stronger handle of the game and pressure isn't her biggest enemy anymore.
At the Tokyo Olympics, PV Sindhu will have a set of hurdles to cross even without her arch-rival Carolina Marin not being present. Marin, who had denied Sindhu her chance at a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics is sitting out this edition owing to an ACL tear injury.
However, Sindhu has to look forward to overcoming the challenges thrown by World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying, World No. 2 Chen Yufei, the Japanese duo of Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi who all intend to play spoilsport for Sindhu's golden dreams.
PV Sindhu will hope to break the silver jinx at the Tokyo Olympics
Once upon a time in not-so-distant-past, a certain legendary Malaysian - Lee Chong Wei was cursed with the silver jinx as the star shuttler always kept falling a wee step behind and claimed the runners-up trophy - a jilted silver medal. The pain of being the second-best despite having every ammunition to challenge the best's can be agonising.
For Chong Wei, China's Lin Dan was the arch-nemesis who stopped him on countless occasions from clinching the gold. The most hurtful of those instances came at the stage of the Olympics when Chong Wei had to walk away with the silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics as Lin Dan decorated himself with the gold. In 2016 Rio, Chong Wei had to go through the pain once again as this time, another Chinese - Chen Long upset the Malaysian's golden dreams - handing him the silver once again.
Closer home, India's PV Sindhu also shared a somewhat familiar fate. A former World No. 2, Sindhu also wore the silver crown on way too many occasions. Just like the World Championship title kept eluding Sindhu for the longest time as the silvers and bronzes piled up, Sindhu changed her stars and made them work in her favour when she won the 2019 World Championship crown in St. Jakobshalle, Basel. Defeating Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in a ruthless fashion, 7-21, 7-21, PV Sindhu clinched the gold and undid the jinx.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, PV Sindhu, who was playing a firebrand quality of badminton, raced into the finals after seeing off the likes of Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying and Japan's Nozomi Okuhara to set up a date with Spain's Carolina Marin. In that high-octane encounter, Sindhu had gotten off to a flying start and won the first game too. Marin wasn't ready to part ways with silver however and forced the match into a thriller - gruelling and demanding from both players. Being so-close-yet-so-far at this instance, PV Sindhu, on her maiden outing at the Olympics, failed to convert the golden opportunity and had to settle for the silver.
Heading into the Tokyo Olympics, PV Sindhu will have a lot of expectations thrust on her. While it would have been premature of me to declare her as a medal favorite even a few years back but ever since Sindhu crowned herself with the World Championship title in 2019, her game has changed quite a bit. A revamped Sindhu, with a fresh outlook, will journey to Tokyo and she will refuse to be at peace with anything that doesn't resemble the precious metals handed by the Olympics.