It is not without reason former Badminton ace Pullela Gopichand is hailed as a coach with the midas touch. It is Gopchand’s tutelage that is reason why Indian Badminton finds itself where it is today – at the top . Rio 2016 Silver medallist PV Sindhu is apparently learning it the hard way since her formative years at the legendary coach’s academy. In pursuit of excellence, there are little pleasures of life that needs to be sacrificed and from Saina Nehwal to Sindhu, Gopi’s theory has never changed.
However, on a day when his ward Sindhu etched her name in the Indian sporting history as the first ever woman to win a silver medal, the strict teacher is ready to become an indulgent elder brother.
With ‘Mission Accomplished’, Sindhu can now get back to being another 21-year-old, who would now be able to whatsapp her friends and enjoy her favourite ice-cream.
“Sindhu did not have her phone during the last three months. The first thing is I would return her phone. The second thing, after coming here for last 12-13 days, I had deprived her from having sweet curd which she likes most. I also stopped her from eating ice-cream. Now she can eat whatever she wants,” an elated Gopi told PTI after Sindhu’s silver winning feat. Gopi hailed Sindhu’s work ethic during the lead upto the Olympics.
Showing her giant-slaying ability, the two-time World Championship bronze medalist ousted three players ranking better than her en route to the final.
Sindhu first beat world No 8 Tzu Ying Tai in the prequarters, world No 2 Wang Yihan in the last eight and in the semis she breezed past world No 6 Nozomi Okuhara to assure India the first silver in badminton in the Olympics. Sindhu, who had a 3-4 win-loss record against Marin going into the final, dreamt higher to upset the two-time world champion and she succeeded somehow to wrap the first game from being 13-16 down. But Marin was far superior from being 10-all in the second game to wrap the issue but Gopichand was all praise for his ward.
“To generate that kind of energy going requires something special. She’s been fantastic in all the four matches and she’s fought well in the final as well. I’m very proud of the fact that she gave it all she had. Marin was the better player on the day, Sindhu has learnt a lesson today. Hopefully she will come back stronger the next time.”
An All-England champion who lost in the Olympics quarterfinals in Sydney 2000 to coach two medalists at the Summer Games – bronze through Saina Nehwal London 2012 and now Sindhu going a notch higher with a silver in Rio 2016 — could not have asked for more.
“I’m very happy, very grateful to the God and the people who supported in this journey. I did not have my phone to reply to the best wishes but things like the Prime Minister’s tweet motivates us to push harder. Everyone has given and tried their best at the Olympics, only few of them have won.
“From our side, we all have tried our best. Hopefully, we will come back stronger and win more but there was no dearth of effort from our side. At this moment, I would really thank the Government of India and SAI for supporting us. It’s a huge effort from a lot of people to get us a medal. I just feel thankful to all of them.”
“We would have loved to get the gold but for her first Olympics and the way she played, I feel very very proud.”