BENGALURU: A year ago, PV Sindhu was still recovering from a foot injury, but preparations for the Rio Olympics were in full flow. She was in search of consistency, for only that could help her do well in her first appearance in the event. Despite doing well in the international arena, stringing together a run of effective results was difficult. But life changed drastically after her run at the Summer Games, where she won a silver medal. Now, she is the star of Indian badminton, and is also getting a biopic on her. Just like Saina Nehwal, who was the first woman to win a badminton medal for India at the quadrennial extravaganza four years earlier.
Such success has also meant that the Sindhu-Saina rivalry has taken on a new meaning. But on Monday, the duo teamed up for a doubles match for employers BPCL at the 38th PSPB inter-unit badminton championship here.
Seeing the two was something for the handful of spectators present, though they went down to doubles specialists N Sikki Reddy and Aparna Balan 19-21, 21-18, 20-22. Despite that, their followers were seen leaving with smiles on their faces. For them, it was a special match.
Sindhu herself accepted that they share an intense rivalry, but at the same time she enjoyed playing with the World No 9.
“We’re singles players first, so on-court rivalry will obviously be there. But off the court, there’s none, although we don’t speak very often.”
India’s fantastic two have already teamed up at the Thomas and Uber Cup, but this is their first time as a pair together since Sindhu’s Rio success. “It was difficult playing together again. But then, we played well despite losing and everybody enjoyed it. It was a good match overall,” she added.
On a personal front, after three back to back early exits at various tournaments, the Hyderabad girl is aiming to make a comeback in the Indonesia and Australian Opens, and has set her sights on the Sudirman Cup.
“After the Olympics, life has changed and I’ve been more confident. I started the year well, and it has been good so far. But definitely I’ve a lot more to achieve, as I’ve just got started. My immediate aim is to give my hundred percent at the Sudirman Cup, which is a team event. Then of course, I have the Indonesia and Australia Opens to play,” she said.
While the 21-year-old is focused on her career and has plans to reach the World No 1 ranking, she believes the Badminton Association of India should also focus on top players and coaches, giving them central contracts to shield them when needed. “Badminton has grown enormously over the last few years, and the top players should be shielded with contracts when they’re injured, along with coaches. This ensures there’s no financial problem for players to make a comeback. Our new president, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, wanted suggestions from players and we all spoke to him on the central contract. I hope the board will decide on that soon,” she concluded.