India’s Golden Girl

PM Modi meeting with ace shuttler PV Sindhu after she won
a historic gold at BWF World Championships  

India’s newest golden girl PV Sindhu has set the nation on a high by becoming India’s first woman badminton player to achieve a Gold Medal

“I could not hold back my tears when I saw the Indian flag and heard the National anthem playing. Words can’t express my feelings about yesterday's win at the World Championship. Had been preparing for it for so long. Finally, the wait ended. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my parents, my coaches (Gopi sir and Ms Kim) and my trainer (Mr Srikanth Verma). And most importantly I would like to thank my sponsors and all my fans who have supported me all along. FINALLY WORLD CHAMPION 2019.”
These are the words of PV Sindhu in her Instagram post and Tweet a day after winning the Badminton World Federation (BWF) women world championship in badminton in Basel Switzerland on August 25, 2019. If one analyses the above post, many things may be observed. Patriotism, sportsmanship, endurance, humility, gratefulness and pride in attaining a hard-won success.
Clearly, the excitement in her was galore as she won the world championship, the first by an Indian after consistent performance ever since she landed into the BWF top 20 in September 2012 at the age of 17 years. In this current championship itself, Sindhu’s quarterfinal win over Tai Yzu Ying of Taiwan after dropping the first set 21-12 was a game-changer and from there she went on to win the semi-final over Chen Yufie of China in just 40 minutes and then defeated Okuhara Nozomi of Japan in 38 minutes flat in the final to be the champion. This win is also a major relief as with this win, she has gone past many silvers that she had acquired: immediate past 2 world cup finals, Olympics, Asian Games, two World finals, Commonwealth games and even the nationals. This gold puts her at par with the Chinese Zhang Ning for most number of podiums by a women’s singles player (5) and thus establishing her spectacular consistency since 2013 when she first began her run by winning the bronze in the BWF world championship. Clearly, PV Sindhu is now badminton's all-time greats with this consistent performance.
 Having won Padma Shri in 2015, Sindhu has already been an inspiration for many Indians. Her
mannerisms and simplicity are very vivid and stable and besides the racket and shuttlecock, she is also an able communicator
The nation in mourning after the passing away of Arun Jaitley, found a great opportunity to console itself and rejoice. This victory was definitely a feat that the nation needed to celebrate. In a sport that was long established globally and having some of the best professional players, Sindhu’s agility and shots showed her mental and physical fitness. In many ways, this was a great morale booster for the talent pool in the country to look at badminton as a sports discipline much more seriously. Saina Nehwal had started the Indian women’s Badminton journey, and Sindhu took it to the highest pedestal. Of course, the splendid work that Pullela Gopichand did in setting up the right coaching infrastructure and spotting talents and nurturing them needs a special mention. His dedication and staying away from limelight is something that many other sports sector need to emulate to bring Indian sports up to international standards. Needless to say Sindhu’s victory and her consistent performance doesn’t take the shine out of Mary Kom’s success as also that of Abhinav Bindra or Sushil Kumar but definitely in a well-established sports signals the beginning of confidence for Indian sports sector to compete in other established sports.
Clearly, this calls for a wider grassroots approach and talent hunt and focus on fitness that PM Modi has also outlined in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ conversation on 30 June this year. Physical fitness is the basic requirement for any sportsperson and even for every citizen. The Fit India movement that he launched on 29 August this year is a great approach to make this into a national movement just as he started Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and made it a habit among most Indians.
While Sindhu will definitely strive for the 2020 Olympic gold in Tokyo and continue winning other tournaments, she is an inspiration for Indians on many other fronts. Her sense of patriotism is a major pride for every Indian and as she said she had tears in her eyes when she saw the tricolour and heard the national anthem. Truly, this is a moment that all Indians yearn for to bring glory to the country and always motivates international sports. Her respect for her parents, coaches and trainers is also another feature that we all care for as behind every success, there are many who toil and constantly support the effort. It was a very nice gesture to devote her victory to her mother, herself a professional volleyball player as also her father. The fact that she chose to play badminton and not pick up volleyball is a message of courage and confidence to be a self-made person and follow one’s goal. Pullela Gopichand was her inspiration behind picking up badminton at the age of eight, but it was her hard work and dedication that brought her to this pedestal. Of course, fans also play a significant role in boosting sportspersons, and she truly acknowledged them always after every tournament. The underlying message that always came from her was that in victory, humility remains the greatest virtue and each aspect of her Instagram post and Tweet was a reflection of that trait once again.
It is pertinent to note that Sindhu is as old as public internet in India as she was born just 40 days before the internet came to India on August 15, 1995. Thus she can be said to be the golden shuttler of the Indian internet age. With internet’s proliferation and spread across the country, information about sports have also spread far and wide and today along with live television, social media has also been a major source of sports information and the many messages that sportspersons provide. Not only do they excite with their games but inspire the Indian youths greatly to take an interest in outdoor sports and also be brand ambassadors for a cause. The sportsmen spirit is an essential trait of national building and social media has been an avenue where such manifestations are being witnessed. Having won a Padma Shri in March 2015, Sindhu has already been an inspiration for many Indians. Her mannerisms and simplicity are very vivid and stable and besides the racket and shuttlecock, she is also an able communicator with a very clear message: “Work hard till the goal is reached”. Most importantly, she is also the right ambassador for fitness as it matters to all.
(The writer is Director JOOKTO and works in grassroots in Barak Valley. He was former country head of General Dynamics)