The 26-year-old became the first Indian woman to win multiple Olympic medals.
Indian badminton star PV Sindhu created history on Sunday by becoming the first Indian woman to clinch back-to-back Olympic medals. She had won a silver medal at Rio 2016 and followed it up with a bronze medal finish at the Tokyo Olympics. Sindhu ousted China’s He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15 to clinch India’s third Olympic medal in Tokyo. Infact, she became only the second Indian to win two individual Olympic medals, following in the footsteps of legendary wrestler Sushil Kumar.
During a media interaction arranged by the Badminton Association of India (BAI), PV Sindhu revealed what was going through her mind after losing the semi-final clash and the influence of her coach Park Tae-sang at the Tokyo Olympics.
Influence of Park Tae-sang
Park Tae-sang has played a major role in PV Sindhu’s career in the last year and a half. Sindhu was quick to point that out.
“I am very happy. Winning a medal for the country is definitely a proud moment and that too back-to-back, in Rio 2016 and now in Tokyo. I have known Park for a very long time when he was with the Korean team. When he came to India, I started training with him. Initially, we needed some time to know about each other. But, we had that dream together to get that Olympic medal,” said Sindhu.
Badminton has been one of the worst affected sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, the duo kept their eyes focused on the goal. “We worked really hard and he (Park), especially has worked really hard. A lot of people suffered due to the pandemic and he couldn’t go back home. It’s the hard work that he put in towards me, that is really great. It was his effort and his hard work and we finally got that medal.
“He never showed that he is nervous. As a coach, he needs to motivate the players that yes, you can do it. That was the support that he was giving me. We had eye-to-eye contact (during the matches in Tokyo), because we know as we practised together for a very long time. I know what he is saying, what needs to be done or what needs to change,” she continued.
A medal achieved together
South Korean Park Tae-sang couldn’t hold his emotions after PV Sindhu clinched the Olympic medal in Tokyo. He was himself a very accomplished player during his playing days. Park won several medals, including a gold medal at the Asian Games and two podium finishes in the Sudirman Cup. However, an Olympic medal eluded him.
The 42-year-old had represented his nation at the 2004 Athens Olympics. He had defeated India’s Abhinn Shyam Gupta and Bao Chunlai of China to reach the quarterfinals. However, he suffered a defeat at the hands of eventual bronze medalist Sony Dwi Koncoro of Indonesia.
“I am really happy because in my coaching career, for the first time my player has got a medal. When I first started coaching Sindhu, she is already India’s big Olympic star. So, actually, I got a little pressure. I tried, in my career also, I never got an Olympic medal. So, I said to myself I can make Sindhu next time Olympic gold winner. We failed, but I think the bronze medal is also a very, very big medal. I am very happy and I thank Sindhu. After the semi-finals, I was a little bit disappointed. I told Sindhu that we have to play one more match. I believe in her and she did it, ” stated Park.
Words of wisdom
At Tokyo 2020, PV Sindhu comfortably got past Israeli Ksenia Polikarpova and Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong to reach the knockout rounds. Victories over Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt and home favourite Akane Yamaguchi followed. However, she had to suffer a semi-final defeat to World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei. It wasn’t easy to focus on the task at hand after the loss and that is where Park Tae-sang stepped in.
“Initially, after the semi was over, I was really sad. I was actually in tears. But, my coach and my physio told me that it’s not over yet, you have another chance. There were a lot of mixed emotions, as to whether I need to be happy as I got another chance or need to be sad as I lost in the semi-finals. But, my coach Park told me one thing I remember, where he said, there is a lot of difference between a bronze and a fourth position. I think that really hit me. I thought getting an Olympic medal for the country is a big, big thing,” Sindhu concluded.