Major Achievements: OLYMPIC SILVER MEDAL IN WOMEN’S SINGLES, CHINA OPEN TITLE, GOLD AND SILVER MEDALLIST AT THE SOUTH ASIAN GAMES, BRONZE IN UBER CUP TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP, RAJIV GANDHI KHEL RATNA
Career Highlights: BADMINTON ASIA YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP 2012 WINNER, BRONZE AT BWF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS (2013, ’14), BRONZE AT 2014 COMMONWEALTH GAMES, ASIAN GAMES AND ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIP, UBER CUP TEAM BRONZE (2014, ’16), THREE-TIME WINNER AT MACAU OPEN (2013, ’14, ’15), PADMA BHUSHAN (2015) DEFINING MOMENTS 2016 RIO OLYMPICS SILVER, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS BRONZE (2013, ’14)
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (5’11”) teenager from Hyderabad, won the Badminton Asia Youth Under-19 Championships title. It was India’s first junior Asian Championships title after Gautam Thakkar’s victory in 1965. Within next Four years, at the Rio Olympics, she did it again. This time her achievement changed her life, and the country’s badminton landscape. Indian badminton scaled dizzying heights when Sindhu won her first Olympic silver medal. A more mature player since her Asian success, she went down fighting to reigning world No. 1 Carolina Marin before loss in the final brought plenty of cheer to 1.3 billion people, who till then had just one bronze to celebrate at the world’s biggest sporting extravaganza. The medal also served as inspiration to Indian women athletes aspiring to strike it big in their careers.
The biggest impact of Sindhu’s Olympics performance was that it changed the nation’s perspective towards women in sport. She earned plenty of awards and accolades for her achievement (cash awards of approximately `13.5 crore, besides land grants, job offers and a lengthy list of sponsors). There are other Indian women also did remarkable performances but it was Sindhu’s performance that undoubtedly remains the crowning glory of India’s women athletes in the 2016 Olympics.
The most important person in her life is Pullela Gopichand, who shaped her craft on the court, aided by unsung heroes like the masseurs, fitness trainers, mental conditioning staff and others at the Gopichand Academy in Gachibowli. For the next 12 years, Sindhu arrived at the academy at 4.15 am every day to attend the first session with Gopichand. Accompanied by her father, she used to travel around 40 km from their home in Secunderabad, six days a week. The extensive training combined with studies started taking a toll on the youngster. Her parents decided to put her in the academy hostel, but that didn’t work out as she would get homesick often. Finally, in 2010, Sindhu’s family decided to move to Gachibowli. Sindhu was always driven in her training and, backed by Gopichand’s systematic methods, she started showing exceptional results early on. Not only was she beating players ranked above her, especially the Chinese, she started winning tournaments regularly. The way Sindhu is flourishing, we all hope that she is going to retain the tag of ‘India’s No. 1 badminton player’ for quite some time, and will raise women badminton to a certain level, where we can expect Olympic gold medal in near future.