World champion Sindhu returns to hero's welcome, says feeling yet to sink in
New Delhi: India's first badminton world champion P V Sindhu was welcomed exuberantly on her return to the country but she said the feeling is yet to sink in given her hectic schedule since the triumph.
The Olympic silver-medallist, who out-played Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-7 21-7 in a lop-sided final of the big event in Basel, Switzerland on Sunday, was mobbed at the airport after she touched down with national coach Pullela Gopichand by her side on Monday night here.
Despite the hectic schedule, the 24-year-old had a smile on her face as she acknowledged supporters and the media at the airport.
"I am really happy, I am very proud of my country. It's a much-awaited win and I am very happy about it," she said in response to a barrage of questions that were thrown at her.
"It hasn't yet sunk in and we didn't get much time to celebrate because I had to come back early after the match and then next day take a flight back to India," she added.
The Hyderabadi has had little time to reflect since her historic achievement. She had meetings lined up with Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the day.
"I will work more hard and win many more medals," she said on questions about the plans from now given that the Olympics is less than a year away.
Sindhu was also asked about the moment she got emotional after the medal distribution ceremony in Basel.
The five-time world medallist had tears in her eyes when the national anthem played. She had claimed silvers in the past two editions, besides a couple of bronze medals earlier.
"I had tears and there were a lot of emotions, it was a great moment for me. Thanks to all my fans for your blessings, your blessings have brought me here," she said.
"I can't express how it felt on the podium. It gave me a lot of confidence to improve and win many more tournaments.
"I would like to thank my coaches Gopi sir and Kim (Ji Hyun). They have put in a lot of effort and done a few changes in my game," she added.
Kim Ji Hyun, a former international from South Korea, joined the coaching staff earlier this year on Gopichand's recommendation.
Sindhu also thanked the government agencies and the Badminton Association of India (BAI) for their support.
"The reception was really, really good. I would like to thank the Sports Authority of India (SAI), BAI, the Sports Minister and the government. They have been very supportive," she said.
Gopichand said Sindhu's gold was special but her past medals at the big event should also never be forgotten.
"It is phenomenal. This wait was definitely long but every medal that she has won is special," he said.
"We won bronze and silver (in the earlier editions). The question-mark was over gold. Going into the Olympics with this win is phenomenal. They way she did it was such a pleasure," he added referring to her dominant performance in the final.
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