VIJAYAWADA: From the word go, it was Sindhu, Sindhu and nothing else. Even the Pushkaram’s last day’s sheen was off to some extent with Sindhu stealing the show. Whether it was at the airport or enroute to the IGMC stadium, it was her show. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu felicitated her and gave a cheque for Rs 3 crore and one for Rs 50 lakh to her coach Pullela Gopichand. Chandrababu Naidu accompanied her to witness the Krishna Harathi to river Krishna at Pavitara Sangamam.
She arrived on a special aircraft hired by the Andhra Pradesh government at 10.15 am, got into a double-decker open bus and kept waving at school children and sports lovers, sending them into a frenzy. The spell she cast remained intact till the nightfall. Consumed by Sindhu fever, women in Kesarapalli offered her silk robes as she passed their village enroute to Vijayawada.
More than a hundred two-wheelers followed them. Children who lined up on either side of the roads, holding Indian flag, chanted ‘Jai Ho Sindhu’. At the Benz circle in Vijayawada, fans stopped the procession and presented Sindhu, flower bouquets. It took more than two hours for the them to reach IGMC Stadium from the airport which is otherwise less than a 45 minutes travel.
At the IGMC Stadium, the Chief Minister and other ministers gave a warm welcome to the ace shuttler and her coach. He felicitated the duo and presented Sindhu and her coach with cheques. Naidu also presented a Rs 25 lakh cheque to Kidambi Srikath who lost in the quarter finals at Rio. He also felicitated Chess grandmaster Koneru Humpi on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister underlined the need for producing champions in all sports. “Sindhu has inspired many women in the country and Gopichand played a crucial role in shaping the champion. Badminton is no less to cricket and other games. Awards and felicitations will help in gaining confidence to achieve more medals in international events,” he said.
Speaking after the felicitation, PV Sindhu said that “During my childhood days, I used to visit my grand father during vacations. In those times, I watched Pullela Gopichand’s games, which inspired me immensely.”
Gopichand said Karanam Malleswari’s felicitation in the year 2000 inspired him to take up sports. “One day, I wanted to reach similar heights in my life where I would be elicitated on such dais. With that inspiration I bagged the All England Open Badminton Championship in 2001,” he said. Earlier on the occasion, Naidu picked up a badminton racquet and played a game with Olympic Silver medalist PV Sindhu for a few minutes, on the dais.