03 Aug 2021  |   04:02am IST

A woman of substance

PV Sindhu wins her second medal in as many Olympics making her the first Indian woman to do so. Young Goan badminton players had much to say about her win and what it meant to them
A woman of substance

Ajit John

It was a match every Indian at some level was invested in. PV Sindhu, a 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist played her heart out and won a bronze medal beating world no 9 He Bing Jiao of China in the bronze play off. This made her the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals. It was a match that was a balm to the tens of thousands of fans in the country who were disappointed by her loss in the semi –finals. For her fans in Goa, it was a performance that confirmed her class and also was a source of great motivation.

Lydia Barretto, one of the promising young players emerging out of the state said she did watch the match and it was an amazing experience to watch a great player win a medal in her second Olympics confirming her quality as a player. She said “I would have certainly liked to have seen her compete in the finals but to see her perform at this level the next day was just fantastic. As an Indian, I felt proud watching the medal around her neck”. She said she learned quite a bit about the strokes used by Sindhu in the match. She said she was inspired to become a better player. She said “I have played in one National and an International which was the ABC in Indonesia in 2019. I practice around 5 hours a day focused on court craft in the morning and fitness in the evening”.

Sachi Dhavlikar said she watched the game and felt very proud when she finally won it. She said “Sindhu at the start was a bit nervous but she picked up really well. She made India proud”. Asked how it would inspire her, she said she had reduced her practice sessions because she had Covid a while ago and later fractured her leg but she intended to start practicing in the near future. She has represented Goa in 2019 at a West Zone tournament and would like to reach a certain level. She said she intended to take things forward once things settled down.

Yasmin Sayed, a promising player from Vasco said she was out of station and was not able to watch the match but managed to reach in time for the finals. She said “I have met Sindhu and I sincerely feel she could have done better. I attended the senior Nationals and watched her play. I met her after the match. It was great interacting with her”. Now ranked number three in Goa in the singles and top ranked doubles player Yasmin has now shifted to Porvorim to focus on her game and improve her fitness. This student intends to make her mark in the sport inspired by PV Sindhu and others who have made a mark in the past.

Tanushri Shadani who will play in the u-17 this year and has attended the nationals said she watched the match which was an awesome experience. She however felt Sindhu’s game had changed because like everyone else, it was difficult to get court time. She however said that watching Sindhu gave her an idea of how much hard work was needed to make a mark at that level. She said “ I want to win medals in the nationals for the state and also thinking about what all it will take to reach the international stage”. For someone who started playing the game at 11 and is now 16 she seems determined to etch her mark in the sport.

Sushil Nayak who was ranked No 1 in 2019 said she looked very confident despite losing her semifinals the previous day. He said he was not practicing much because it was difficult to get a court in Covid times. In addition he had also torn his ligament which made matters worse. He was candid when he did not intend to take the game up professionally because the virus had spoiled many careers. He said “These are the crucial years, 18-19 and that has been spoiled by the virus. I will still play in the state but I will not take it further.” Sad but that seems to be a decision taken by a player who understands himself very well.

Sandeep Heble, Secretary, Goa Badminton Association had his take on Sindhu’s win and the growing popularity of the game in the state. He said “Badminton has grown phenomenally in India during the last decade thanks to the exploits of Saina Nehwal in London2012, followed by Sindhu in Rio2016. In Goa too, the sport has come up through leaps and bounds. Tokyo2020 was a historic occasion with Sindhu adding a bronze to her silver, the first Women athlete to win back to back honours at the Olympics. In Goa, badminton stadiums have come up in various parts of Goa and the win will be an inspiration to all our young Badminton players. It will attract more young players to the game and will inspire our advanced players to work harder to achieve success at higher levels. Sindhu is a big match player and a legend in India. Thank you Sindhu for all that you’ve done to badminton in India”.

It would certainly warm the hearts of every Goan if a player from this state wins honours at very prestigious international tournaments in the future. One can only hope one of these young players gets inspired by players like Sindhu and reaches for the sky.