Pullela Gopichand: PV Sindhu must work doubly hard for Tokyo 2020
National coach Pullela Gopichand says unlike Rio 2016, where she was a surprise package, India's new world champion shuttler will be a marked player at next year's Olympic Games
Even as the Indian badminton fraternity celebrates PV Sindhu's gold medal win at the BWF World Championships against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara yesterday, there's one man who is already charting his most famous ward's path to next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.
India coach Pullela Gopichand believes Sindhu will now have to work doubly hard if she has to replicate last night's Basel show at Tokyo 2020. "It's great to have the biggest title of the year — the World Championships — under your belt heading into the year of the Olympics. But what this win does is that it actually makes people alert and ready for you. The last time at the Olympics, people were not ready for Sindhu and she was a surprise package, but this time, the whole world is going to concentrate and focus on how to beat Sindhu.
PV Sindhu with her gold. Pic/AFP
So I believe she needs to prepare doubly hard. While on one hand, this win will give her confidence, on the other, she will also become the most marked player on the circuit. So, she needs to be more alert and work even harder," Gopichand told mid-day over the phone from Basel, Switzerland, moments after Sindhu dominated World No. 4 Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in just 38 minutes to win India's first gold medal at the prestigious event. Not many would have expected such a lop-sided encounter, but again Gopichand thought differently. He knew Sindhu would go in all guns blazing.
"The way she played the entire tournament was fantastic. Going by the super dominating manner in which she played her semi-final [beating China's World No. 3 and All England champion Chen Yu Fei 21-7, 21-14 in 40 minutes] yesterday, I was expecting her to go in and try exactly the same today, and she did. Also, the fact that Okuhara just could not penetrate her defence, helped Sindhu attack more. While the words 'world champion' is a phenomenal feeling, the way Sindhu has achieved it is something that I'm very happy to see," added the 2001 All England champion.
Two-time silver and two-time bronze medal-winner Sindhu meanwhile, was speechless after her historic triumph. "I am really very happy. I have no words to express because I have been waiting for so long to become a world champion. Last time, it was silver, before that it was silver and finally I am a world champion," said Sindhu, who had lost to Okuhara in an epic 110-minute final two years ago.
This was Sindhu's fifth World Championships medal — the most by a female singles player alongside the legendary Zhang Ning of China. "A lot of credit goes to my coaches, Gopi Sir and Kim [Ji Hyun] and also to my parents, my support staff and sponsors who believed in me. I dedicate this win to my mom. It's her birthday today. I will gift her this gold medal. I am here today because of my parents," added Sindhu, who proudly stood atop the victory podium with tears in her eyes as the Indian national anthem reverberated across the St Jakobshalle Stadium last night.
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