At 21, PV Sindhu became the first-ever Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal this year. She broke into the Top 20 of the BWF World ranking when she was 17. She is the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Badminton World Championships. Her achievements are undeniably incredible, but it took her a long while to get there. Here is a snippet of her journey.
1 An athletic family
Sindhu was born into an athletic family with both her parents being professional volleyball players. She chose to play badminton and was inspired by Pullela Gopichand’s success at the 2001 All England Open. She started playing badminton when she was eight years old, with very supportive parents and a lot of determination.
2 Unbeatable determination at a young age
While most children are usually not too serious at a young age, Sindhu used to report to her coaching camp on time every day. She travelled a distance of almost 56 kilometers from where she lived. She learned the basics of the sport at the very modest Indian Railway Institute of Signal Engineering and Telecommunications in Secunderabad, after which she moved on to train at the Gopichand Badminton Academy.
3 Starting to compete
Sindhu started winning several titles at a young age, including Under 10 categories in All India championships. She won the singles titles at the sub juniors in Pondicherry, Sub Junior nationals and All India Ranking in Pune. Winning several tournaments at a young age made her even more likely to be on the road to becoming an international level player.
4 Going international
Sindhu debuted her international career by winning the bronze medal at the 2009 Sub-Junior Asian Badminton Championships in Colombo. She also won the silver medal at the 2010 Iran Fajr International Badminton challenge, and became an official member of the Indian national badminton team in the same year.
While she went on to compete in the 77th Senior National Badminton Championships at Srinagar, it was later revealed that she had injured her knee, but carried on competing. Later, she had to skip the World Junior Championships in order to keep the injury in check, as it had gotten worse. She made an even better comeback in the next tournament, the Syed Modi India Grand Prix Gold, where she reached her career best ranking of 15.
6 The Rio Olympics
After years of amazing wins and fabulously played tournaments, Sindhu went on to compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016. She was ranked 9th, but won several matches, even defeating World No.2 Wang Yihan, to en route to the finals of the tournament. She finally lost to Spaniard Carolina Marin after a hard fought match, and became the first ever woman to win silver medal for India.
7 Being recognised all over the country
While Sindhu had already gathered a lot of fame due to her tournaments in the past, her Olympic win was revolutionary, and she was awarded the Padma Shri — the fourth highest civilian honour in the country. She even won the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the highest sporting honour in India.
8 Undefeated spirit
Her coaches have always said that Sindhu is set apart by her die-hard spirit and refuse to ever give up. Even today, she gives up regular pleasures like using her phone and plays all day in order to achieve what she has today. She continues to win today, and will surely go ahead to achieve much more— she’s only 21 after all.