File photo of PV Sindhu. Photograph:( Zee News Network )
In any field, higher you go, tougher it gets to go further up. It is valid in sports as well. In sports, the hierarchy for any sportsperson goes like this, talented player – international success – world beater – undisputed best (legend). The transition gets tougher as the level goes up.
Star shuttler P V Sindhu has been one of the most outstanding Indian sportspersons in the recent times. Her accomplishments and achievements are unparalleled and words can’t give her enough compliments. She rose up in the hierarchy quickly. First, she became an international success after winning medals at the World Championships. Then she catapulted herself to the class of World Beater after her tremendous show at the RIO-2016. She was outstanding in RIO and missed the gold medal by a whisker.
Now she just needs to take one upward step to go into the class of undisputed Best or Legend of the game and this is something which we Indians have been anxiously waiting for a while now.
Despite all the calibre and sea-change in her game over the past few years, Sindhu’s tendency of just letting things go away at the big stages keeps her away from the immortality.
So it was another heartbreak at All England Championship when Sindhu lost out in the semi-final to the World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi. During this year’s All England Championship, Sindhu had a dream run till the first game of the semi-final match. During the first game against Yamaguchi, Sindhu was once leading by 16-10 and it looked, Sindhu, all the way. But then she lost the momentum and Yamaguchi bounced back. Sindhu though managed to win the first game by 21-19 but lost out next two games in a close fight.
Sindhu has been outstanding as such during the tournament. She defeated world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the quarter-final in another epic three-game match but could not clear the hurdle of the semi-final.
Sindhu’s career is clearly divided into different compartments. Pre 2014. Between 2013 and 2016 and then post 2016 RIO.
With Bronze Medal in 2013 World Championship, Sindhu struck in the global top league of women shuttlers. She won another bronze in the World Championship in 2014. During this era, though she had all the ingredients of a world beater; she was highly inconsistent. On her day, she would be devastatingly good but just ordinary on some other day.
Gopichand worked very hard on her game during the run-up for the RIO 2016. Sindhu was far more consistent and matured player in 2016. Gopichand not only worked on her skills and stamina but also on the mental part of the game. Sindhu developed a knack for holding her nerves in tough situations and Gopichand taught her to capitalize on her natural aggressive game.
But the undisputed summit position has still been dodging her. In 2017, World Championship she lost out to Nozomi Okuhara in a marathon nailbiter, which many believe was one of the all-time greatest matches in women’s badminton. It was a match, which lasted for whopping 110 minutes. At 21-20 in the second game, Sindhu wan the point and the game after a gruelling and jaw-dropping 73 shots rally.
Call it her bad luck or her tendency to just losing nerves the final moment to seal things in her favour, Sindhu has lost three biggest matches of her career after a hard-fought battle. She lost in RIO 2016 final by 21-19, 12–21, 15-21, lost the final of World Championship in 2017 by 19-21, 22–20, 20-22 and now this defeat in the All England Championship by 21-19,19-21,18-21.
These are top three championships (Olympic, World Championship and All England), which Sindhu is yet to win. At this moment, she is just a notch below from being the undisputed best and a legend of the game. Sindhu is a tough campaigner. After her loss in All England Championship, she vowed to come back stronger. At just 22 years of age, she has a long career ahead of her.
With kind of talent she carries, the kind of fighter she is and the kind of mentor she has in form of Gopichand, Sindhu is bound to attain immortality. It just matters just some more time.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)