Olympic medal will mean more than World Championship: PV Sindhu talks Rio 2016, India's chances and Saina Nehwal

Mumbai: With two back-to-back bronze medals in world championships adorning her list of achievements, Rio-bound Indian shuttler P V Sindhu says she will consider it a bigger feat if she could climb the podium on debut during the Olympic Games in August.

"It's much more than world championships. The ultimate goal for anyone is to get a medal in the Olympics where the conditions and environment are totally different. (But) first of all I am very excited. It's my first Olympics," said the 20-year-old Hyderabadi at a media interaction in Mumbai on Friday.

World No. 10 Sindhu and fellow-Hyderabadi Saina Nehwal, ranked two rungs above her currently, will be the two big hopes for the country in the August 5-21 sports spectacle which is to be held for the first time ever in South America.

Sindhu, who will turn 21 exactly a month before the Games Opening, expressed her happiness that a total of seven shuttlers, two more than in London four years ago, had made the grade for the Rio Games.

PV Sindhu. AFP

PV Sindhu. AFP

"It's great that seven players have been selected for the Olympics, including the women's doubles team (Jwala Gutta and Arti Ponnappa) for the second time and the men's doubles team (Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy) for the first time.

"It's also (K) Srikkanth's first time (at the Olympics). He too will be excited. I wish all of us play well and give our best," said Sindhu, who won singles bronze medals in the 2013 and 2014 world championships held at Guangzhou (China) and Copenhagen (Denmark).

"We have been training hard. We need to push ourselves more. We are doing training off and on court, but the main thing is to keep ourselves fit and healthy. We need to be healthy as well as injury free," said Sindhu who is supported by not-for-profit organisation, Olympic Gold Quest.

The lanky shuttler was here to get a special insole fitted in the shoe of her right foot which was fractured one year ago and put her off the badminton scene for a considerable period of time.
Sindhu said that only after stepping on the court in Rio

can she exactly say how different the environment will be, but she did not think the Olympics meant extra pressure.

"It's the Olympic Games, so you need to play well. Everything is in your mind, but (there's) nothing like (extra) pressure. It's really exciting, but I may not know till I play a match as it's the first time for me."

She said it was crucial for the team members to be strong, both on the physical as well as the mental side.

"Physically and mentally we need to be very strong and it's important to train hard as nowadays the matches are long in badminton."

With the Games fast approaching planning has been done so that Sindhu and the others would be free to concentrate on training intensely for one month just prior to the mega event.

"Only a few months are left (for the Games) and there are some tournaments left to play. We need to be prepared for them as well as Rio. The next important events (for Indian shuttlers) are the Thomas and Uber Cups (finals, from May 15-22 in China).

"We will be playing in Indonesia and Australia and then we will be having one month training. We are going to put the full effort for the Rio Olympics," said Sindhu.

The near six-foot-tall player said it was not easy to pick anyone as a likely medallist and it was not wise to take any opponent lightly, while singling out Thailand's former world champion Ratchanok Intanon and Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying as particularly difficult opponents for her.

"We can't say one person can win as every person - from 1-20 ranking - is capable of winning a medal. Whoever plays well on that day will be the winner. We can't take it easy against anyone.

"As of now Ratchanok, is really challenging and is doing really well. I have recently played with her. And also Tai, she has also been playing well. I would have beaten her (recently), but missed it by 2-3 points. It depends on the day.

"The best players are going to come to the Olympics. We cannot say one is easy and another is difficult, as every player has different style of play," she explained.

Sindhu, who said she had been working on her on-court movement, pointed out that her extra height gave her some advantages but there were also some drawbacks.
"I have been doing footwork programme and have been doing various sessions to move faster. My strong point always has
been my attacking game, but nowadays nobody is giving that (leeway to) attack. Because I am tall (6-foot, 10-inches)
everybody plays a fast game and downward strokes.
"I have been doing more of downward stroke (countering) because against players who are tall they (opponents) don't
give chances to attack. They keep you more in defence. There are advantages as well as disadvantages with being tall. One
thing (advantage) is the (better) reach, (but) they make you bend a lot more," she said.
Asked about her marginally better record against top Chinese players in comparison to her senior compatriot Saina,
Sindhu said their approach was different.
"Saina has a different style of play. She plays more of attack nowadays and I'm playing more of rallies. It's totally
different - the way Saina plays them and I play them," she said.
Sindhu hailed her senior compatriot and London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal saying that she been a huge inspiration, especially with her experience in representing the country in past Olympic Games and doing well.
"It's always good for the country that she has been doing really well and has brought many laurels. She has been achieving and achieved a lot for the country.
"At the same time (looking at her feats), I feel I should play much better and work harder to prove myself. Basically
she has been a inspiration. She has much more experience as a player and it's her third Olympics."
Asked about the likelihood of facing Saina across the court in Rio, Sindhu said, "Definitely that (possibility) will be there. Only one (of us) can win if that happens. Off court we are friends, but on court the rivalry is there."
She recalled Saina's return to Hyderabad four years ago after becoming the country's first-ever Olympic medallist in
badminton in London.
"When she came back we all congratulated her. There was a big thing, people coming and greeting her. It felt great."
"No, I have not asked her to show the medal," she added.

Published Date: May 06, 2016 05:25 pm | Updated Date: May 06, 2016 05:28 pm


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