That PV Sindhu was a star in the making was never in doubt, given the massive strides she has taken on the badminton circuit over the past couple of years.
But little did anyone expect her to embark on a giant-killing spree at the World Badminton Championships, a competition that the Chinese have virtually owned over the past few years. Within a couple of days, the 18-year-old has achieved precisely that, having trounced two of the best players in back-to-back contests.
As if her win over defending champion and World No 2, Wang Yihan on Thursday was not spectacular enough, Sindhu accounted for another Chinese stalwart, Shixian Wang, the former World No 1 to enter the semi-final of the tournament in Guangzhou yesterday.
Sindhu has now inscribed her name in history books: she became the first Indian woman to assure herself a medal in singles at badminton’s most prestigious event after the Olympics. To put her achievement in greater perspective, Sindhu is only the third Indian shuttler after the legendary Prakash Padukone and the pair of Ashwini Ponappa & Jwala Gutta to have won medals at the Worlds. The World No 12 beat the seventh seeded Chinese 21-18, 21-17 in 55 minutes at Tianhe Indoor Stadium yesterday.
Former national coach U Vimal Kumar said that Sindhu has surpassed his expectations by making it to the last four. “It was an impressive performance by Sindhu. Beating two former World No 1s in two days for an 18-year-old is no small feat. I wasn’t expecting this from her — at least in these World Championships.
“She has not been stretched in the tournament so far. Technically, she has achieved something beyond what I expected. She is talented no doubt, but this performance has instilled the belief that she can only go further up from here,” Kumar told MiD DAY from Bangalore.
Meanwhile, her parents were thrilled to bits after yesterday’s result. “After Thursday’s match, we expected her to win against Shixian Wang. But at the same time, we were nervous. Now that she has entered the semi-finals, we hope that she will advance to the finals. What’s encouraging is that she didn’t let the loss of Saina and Kashyap affect her. I am happy that she is slowly coming up to the ranks of Saina,” her mother Vijaya told MiD DAY from Hyderabad.
Her father Ramana, a former India volleyball captain and also an Arjuna awardee, claimed that their daughter has given them the popularity that they didn’t achieve in their heyday.
“It’s unfortunate that Saina and Kashyap couldn’t make it to the semis. But, I am glad that Sindhu performed well. The kind of popularity that she has given us as her parents is immense. Even as athletes we didn’t get such attention,” he said.