For P. V. Sindhu, the pain of missing an opportunity to have another crack at the Olympic gold medal now stands replaced by the joy of adding a bronze to her collection.
The World champion experienced extreme emotions this weekend in less than 24 hours. “After the loss in the semifinals, (to Tai Tzu Ying), I was really sad. I was in tears but my coach (Park Tae-Sang) said it was not over yet. Park reminded me that there is a lot of difference between winning the bronze and coming fourth. That hit me and I started focussing hard on the match (against He Bingjiao)”
Talking about the moment when she won the bronze-medal point, Sindhu said, “I was blank, my coach was literally in tears, it was a big moment. I hugged him and said thank you. I didn’t know what to do for 5-6 seconds. I shouted so all emotions came together at that moment. Winning back to back medals was very special.”
On Monday, Sindhu and her coach Korean coach held a virtual press conference from Tokyo and they were joined by the Badminton Association of India secretary Ajay Singhania.
Asked about the congratulatory messages from her ex-coach P. Gopichand and Saina Nehwal, Sindhu responded with a smile, “Gopi sir called up to say congratulations. That’s all.”
And Saina? “No. Anyway, we don’t talk much.”
Sindhu said the decision to train at Gachibowli Stadium fast-tracked her medal hunt.
It may be recalled that Sindhu and her coach moved out of Gopichand Academy to train at a nearby stadium to get accustomed to the ‘drift’ that was likely to exist at the venue in Tokyo. “We had this opportunity to play in conditions similar to those in the Olympics. So from February, we have been playing there. It helped us because drift played a big role (in the playing hall in Tokyo) and I learnt a lot in Gachibowli. In the last few months, I learnt to control the shuttle better.
“Gachibowli has international standard courts with air conditioners, which is important. So I feel it was the best decision.”
For Park, Sindhu’s bronze medal meant the world. “For the first time in my coaching career, my player has won an Olympic medal,” said the jubilant Korean, a men’s singles quarterfinalist in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“When I took over, Sindhu was already a big Olympic star. We worked very hard on her defence and we were going for a happy result. I believed in her.
“After the loss in the semifinals, Sindhu was sad. But I thought, if Sindhu wins the bronze, it will be a very big medal. She played very well. So, I am very happy, and I thank Sindhu,” he acknowledged.