Ace shuttler Pusarla Venkata Sindhu recently created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a singles medal after scoring an upset win over favourite Shixian Wang of China in the quarterfinal of the World Badminton Championship in Guangzhou.
Though she suffered a straight-game defeat against world number three Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand in the semifinal, the tremendous feat saw Sindhu break into the top 10 world rankings, so far achieved only by the golden girl of Indian badminton, Saina Nehwal.
Before Sindhu, Prakash Padukone won a medal in the world championships way back in 1983 when he bagged a bronze in the men singles event in Copenhagen, while the women’s doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa bagged another bronze for India in the last edition of the tournament at London in 2011.
With Saina at number four and Sidhu at the 10th position in international rankings, India can now proudly rub shoulders with their Chinese counterparts, hitherto considered invincible.
Sindhu was born to PV Ramana and P Vijaya, both former volleyball players. Ramana won Arjuna Award in 2000. Interestingly, Sindhu junior too has been selected for Arjuna Award this year.
Though her parents played professional volleyball, Sindhu chose badminton when she was eight because she drew inspiration from the success of Pullela Gopichand, the 2001 All England Open champion who later became her coach and mentor. Her determination and ability to work hard could be judged from the fact that when Sindhu lived in Secunderabad, she used to travel 40-km to Gopichand’s badminton academy in Hyderabad every day. And amazingly, she never missed a single training session!
Sindhu first hogged limelight in 2009, winning the bronze at sub-junior Asian Badminton Championships at Colombo. The following year she surprised many by reaching the quarterfinal of junior World Championships in Mexico. After a relatively quiet period, she announced her arrival in the senior circuit with a bang by stunning London Olympics gold medallist Li Xuerui of China 21-19, 9-21, 21-16 to reach the semifinal of 2012 China Masters Super Series.
That her shocking win in China was no flash in the pan got proven earlier this year when she won the Malaysia Open to script her maiden Grand Prix title.
It can simply be a co-incidence that Virat Kohli and Sindhu have been nominated together for this year’s Arjuna Award.
Whereas Kohli is seen as ready to take charge of Indian cricket in a short while, the media has already started projecting Sindhu’s capability in taking Indian badminton forward though her fans would love to see the teenager establishing her own distinct benchmark. Owing to her simplicity, Sindhu is definitely going to be a star attraction for years to come.