PV Sindhu is a world champion but she is so much more than that
Soon after PV Sindhu climbed to the top step of the podium at the world championships and accepted her medal, a needless controversy seemed to have erupted on the social media, as one always does. After some claimed that Sindhu was the greatest athlete that India has produced, a lot of “whataboutery” began, but the claim had a point. P V Sindhu is the greatest athlete in an individual sport that modern India has produced. She is no one-hit wonder, honing and developing her skills for years, going through several ups and downs and while this might be her greatest success, she has also failed earlier at the top level. But she does make you believe. And win.
Her competitiveness and mental fortitude — not least the fact that she lost to the same opponent at a final after the longest match in top-tier women’s badminton history — to come back and become champion is remarkable. Yet she was not consumed by the hype machine that surrounds top athletes, especially in a country crying out for them. And while Sindhu is coached by Korean coach Kim Ji Hyun, a former Olympic Gold medallist, the contribution of Pullela Gopichand, India’s badminton maven, in shaping this 25-year-old into becoming the champion she has, cannot be ignored. It is a pity that the same coach cannot win the Dronacharya Award multiple times because Gopichand makes a very strong case. He is the singular reason that India has a production line of badminton talent and the racket sport has become possibly the most played and followed in the country. Now with Sindhu’s success, that will only increase. More than anything else, PV Sindhu is an inspiration to many young Indians that through hard work and dedication — the strict routine at Gopichand’s badminton academy is legendary — success in sport is attainable. It is likely that the mantle that she has achieved will be taken over by any one of the many young boys and girls rising through the ranks. It is also proof of how an Indian sports federation, usually a victim of venal internecine politics, can ensure that it can enable a production line of success. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) deserves credit. Through the success of Sindhu and others like Saina and Srikanth, it has fulfilled its key role of popularising the sport in the country, encouraging millions to pick up the racket. For the sport that the British colonialists claim to have invented in Pune, success has come home. The triumph of PV Sindhu is also a reminder to middle-class Indian parents that great success in sport can come through dedication and commitment and reap financial rewards, too. Success truly has many fathers but make no mistake that without the person herself, it wouldn’t have been possible. PV Sindhu take a bow.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer