Sindhu has what it takes to win a third Olympic medal: Gopichand

PV Sindhu and Pullela Gopichand
PV Sindhu and Pullela Gopichand (Source: X & RevSportz PC)

The Indian badminton contingent at the Olympics will have medal contenders in more than one section. Everything won by the shuttlers before Paris 2024 came from women’s singles. This time, prospects are better in men’s doubles and singles.
PV Sindhu will still be the cynosure and a contender after having secured qualification. That’s because she is Sindhu. The former world champion claimed bronze and silver at the last two Olympics in Rio and Tokyo. She lifts her game on the big stage, as five world championship medals testify. Well off her peak a few months ago, she has bounced back to snatch her place.
The challenge for the 28-year-old will be to sustain physically and mentally the tempo in the business end should she get there. “Sindhu will definitely face competition from the likes of An Se Young (World No 1), Chen Yu Fei (No 2) and Akane Yamaguchi (No 4). But she has delivered in the past. She has the experience and with it, the potential to deliver in Paris,” said chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, after inaugurating the RevSportz Trailblazers 2.0 Conclave in Kolkata on Monday.

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PV Sindhu File Picture
PV Sindhu File Picture (Image: BAI Media)

Sindhu left Hyderabad in February and started training under Prakash Padukone in Bengaluru. Almost her entire life was spent at the SAI academy in Hyderabad run by Gopichand. He said they interacted during the Badminton Asia Team Championship in Selangor, Malaysia last month. “There wasn’t anything specific, but we had an exchange,” said Gopichand.

The chief national coach said his duty remains the same, irrespective of where the player is practising. “As a national coach, it’s important for me to ensure that wherever the players are training, they deliver when they are at the tournament. And that the atmosphere around is good. I’m happy that I have been able to manage it,” said Gopichand.

A sensation in 2013, who won her first world championship medal at the age of 18 and played her part in ending the Chinese hegemony, Sindhu has not had a great time after Tokyo 2021. Hit by injuries, she has come back well. And the World No. 11 has seven medals from two of the world’s top competitions. Gopichand feels those attributes and her power game can still come in handy.

Pullela Gopichand on PV Sindu
Pullela Gopichand on PV Sindu (PC: RevSportz PC)

“Her game is very physical in a way. When you have conditions which are a bit slow, and where physicality becomes a major issue, she has always delivered. In big competitions played in big stadiums, there will be a physical element and Sindhu can be a force there,” summed up Gopichand.
On form, India’s bigger hopes are the men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty. They are the World No. 1 pair. HS Prannoy excelled in crunch moments last year and clinched bronze medals in men’s singles from the world championships and the Asian Games. Optimistically speaking, these are India’s medal hopes from badminton. That makes it three, from one until 2021!
“It’s a logical step. (In the past) We were struggling to qualify. But today we have Satwik and Chirag as a top team. Prannoy is World No. 7 and has a chance. Sindhu has done it in the past. In women’s doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and Tanisha Crasto have performed at the highest level. So, I believe they have a chance. This is only natural and had to happen,” signed off Gopichand.

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