Former badminton player and now coach, Pullela Gopichand, is a proud man now.
His Andhra-based protege Pusarla Venkata Sindhu on August 19 became the first Indian woman to not only reach a badminton final of the Olympic Games, but also to win a silver medal at the world biggest sporting event.
Ranked No.10 in the world, PV Sindhu reached the final after beating world’s No.2 Wang Yihan of China, No.6 Nozomi Okuhara of Japan and No.8 Tai-Tzu-ing of Chinese Taipei.
Though defeated by Spaniard Carolina Marin (21-19, 21-12, 21-15) at the final of Rio Olympics 2016, Sindhu fought like a tigress making Marin literally earn each and every point to win.
With the medal hanging around her neck, the tall and lanky Sindhu known for her strong smashes was all smiles and told media: “At the moment I am on Cloud Nine. I had come to win a medal and now I am an Olympic medalist. I understand things will be very different now on.”
President Pranab Mukherjee congratulated Sindhu and said in his message to the rising star: “Hearty congratulations on creating history by winning for India a silver medal in the women’s singles in badminton at the 2016 Rio Olympics.”
“The people of India rejoice with your family and you on the remarkable achievement. Your grit, mental strength and brilliant display today will inspire confidence amongst all Indian sportspersons that they can achieve the pinnacle of any sport at the international level,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also greeted her and said: “Congrats for the Silver, P V Sindhu. Very well fought. Your accomplishment at Rio 2016 is historic and will be remembered for years.”
While the entire country is still rejoicing her win, here are 10 interesting facts about Sindhu that you would like to know:
1. With her silver, Sindhu, 21, is now the youngest Indian to win a medal at the Olympics. Badminton player Saina Nehwal won a bronze in 2012 Olympics at the age of 22.
2. Sindhu took to badminton as a pastime at the age of six. She used to play her neighbouring locality at West Marredpally, Secunderabad in Telangana state. Her formal training began at the age of eight.
3. Both her parents – P.V. Ramana and P. Vijaya – were volleyball players. Her father was presented with the Arjuna Award in 2000 and he had won India a bronze medal in the 1986 Seoul Asian Games. Her elder sister P.V. Divya was a national-level handball player.
4. Before ace shuttler Pullela Gopichand started training Sindhu, she learnt the game from Dronacharya Awardee S.M. Arif, Govardhan Reddy and Mir Mahboob Ali.
5. Such was her determination to win a medal at the Rio Olympics that for the last three years, since she was 19, Sindhu used to travel 27 km every day to her academy and started her practice from 4.15 am.
6. She got the Arjuna Award at the age of 18 and the Padma Shri at 20.
7. It was on August 10, 2013 that Sindhu became the first ever Indian women’s singles player to win a medal at the World Championships. She bagged bronze medals twice – one in 2013 and another in 2014.
8. She shines at the 10th position in the Top 25 Women’s Singles rankings of the Badminton World Federation, but with her Olympic win beating higher ranked players she is sure to go up.
9. The Hyderabadi girl loves gorging on keema paratha and biryani.
10. An avid watcher of Telugu movies, her favourite actors are Prabhas and Mahesh Babu.
She also enjoys watching television so much that she can spend the whole night glued to it if given a chance. Hence, her parents have made it a rule that she has to sleep by her mother’s side to ensure she gets a good night’s sleep.
(Sources: Badminton World Federation, TOI, The Hindu, Livemint, Sportzwiki, itimes)
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.