Sindhu eyes elusive gold

Sindhu eyes elusive gold

PV Sindhu is India's biggest hope of a gold medal in badminton at the Asian Games. AFP

For P V Sindhu, the 18th Asian Games has come at a crucial turn in her career.

The 23-year-old has flirted often with big successes before fading at the sight of the finish line in recent times. Age is on her side and opportunity too is ripe for the Indian to take the big leap in a country that has produced some of the greats of the game.

Sindhu’s most recent final loss, to Carolina Marin in the World Championships earlier this month, left her bruised. But the world number three has taken the loss in her stride, enjoying the silver medal and dreaming about the day when the colour changes for the better.

“It was a tough draw and I beat some good players. Though I lost in the finals, it was a good run. There is always the next chance and I am looking forward to it. Getting a medal is a great thing. Everyone fights for the gold, me too, but only one person can win and I take it in a positive way,” said Sindhu, after winding up a training session here.

Sindhu’s path at the Games is dotted with players of class. It is only to be expected, with nine of the world’s top ten players being from Asia. While she has beaten all of them, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying is a particularly prickly rival, having beaten the Indian in all their last five meetings.

“The top ten players are of the same standard and you have to be well prepared and have to give your 100 percent in every match,” said Sindhu. “The Japanese are strong; the Chinese must have slipped a bit but they have many young players coming up. Then there is Tai, so we cannot take anything for granted.”

The tall Hyderabadi is not a fan of this venue, with the drift causing her problems in the past. “We have played here many times before and drift is a problem. But the fans are fantastic and it is good to play in a badminton crazy country,” she said.

Sindhu’s first challenge is the team event, with India taking on top seeds Japan. The Indians are unseeded, a fact that surprised Sindhu. “I thought we would be seeded as we were the bronze medallists last time. But they go by the BWF rankings and we can’t complain,” she said, and acknowledged that it would be a difficult game against the Japanese. 

“It is going to be tough but we have to be ready for everything, three singles and two doubles. We are in good form and I think it is going to be a good fight in singles and our doubles players are also doing well. So, hopefully, we will come through,” she said.

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