Is P V Sindhu headed the Lee Chong Wei way? The Malaysian great topped the men’s singles ranking for 199 consecutive weeks, but never won titles befitting his stature. Thrice Olympic silver medallist and runner-up at the World Championships four times, he came agonisingly close to the trophies—that carry maximum weight in the analysis of individual supremacy—without ever winning one of those. After Sunday’s World Championship setback, Sindhu finds herself on the losing side in a marquee final for the fourth time in three years.
If Lee found the Chinese challenge unsurmountable, Sindhu has cracked that, only to be undone by the brilliance of Spain’s Carolina Marin and two Japanese girls in the previous years. Consistency is not a concern at all. It manifests in her playing record.
Given Sindhu’s age, her record against top rivals and consistency in the biggest of competitions, there are reasons to be hopeful. Four World Championship medals and an Olympic silver at 23 makes her one of the best to have played the game in recent times. As TV experts noted during Sunday’s match, Sindhu ran into her rival Marin on a day when the latter was unbeatable. The gap between the players at the top isn’t huge. If Sindhu keeps reaching finals at this rate, the gold is within her reach.
So instead of losing sleep over what is wrong with her, it’s better to look for the next contender, someone who will go on to rule the world. Who is next should actually be the bigger concern than Sindhu’s losing streak in finals. Starting with the women’s doubles bronze won by Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa at the 2011 World Championship, Indians have been on the podium at the biggest badminton competition every year.
This includes two Olympic and six World Championship medals from 2012 to 2018. All these have been won by Sindhu and Saina Nehwal. The absence of the next generation and lack of prospects in the men’s section is what authorities should start looking at. Let Sindhu do what she is doing.