Sports is often about changing perceptions. There come performers who challenge the existing order and open new horizons. P V Sindhu’s coronation as world champion in women’s badminton is one such story. In one go, her rise has dispelled notions about the game worldwide and also in India. China continues to be a major force, but it no longer enjoys monopoly over the top prizes.
Sindhu has been a key figure in demolishing this bastion in the women’s section, along with players from Spain, Japan, Thailand and Chinese Taipei. The Indian has been the most consistent of the lot; she is the only player to have reached the finals of the year’s biggest tournaments since 2016. Because a big title eluded her for long, Sindhu’s achievements were viewed with a tinge of dissatisfaction. Defeats in successive finals raised questions over her ability to pull it off on the biggest stage. ‘Is it stage fright?’ people started asking.
The unbelievable pummelling of her Japanese rival in the World Championship final puts to bed those apprehensions. It shows that she is a world beater in the true sense of the word. With skills, tactical acumen and physical ability, she also has the mental strength that separates No 1 from 2. Literally a giant in the women’s game due to her towering frame, expect her to become a stronger force now, given that the mental barrier of not winning a final is gone.
Her victory also highlights what is happening behind the scenes. Pullela Gopichand’s academy in Hyderabad has for long been a breeding ground for worldclass players. The emergence of a world champion will undoubtedly inspire them to work harder. The role played by the Badminton Federation of India can’t be ignored either.
Noticing that Gopichand had his hands full, the federation hired foreign coaches for top players. Sindhu has benefited from the presence of South Korean Kim Ji Hyun. The difference that inputs from top coaches make can also be seen from the recent good results in doubles. This silent work also deserves praise in the celebration of success.