Mumbai: Much before gold could hit the highest price in the Indian market, India's own Pusarla Venkata Sindhu smashed the precious yellow metal to make it India's priceless safe haven. And gave the country a National Sports Day (Aug 29) gift in advance on Sunday.
Call it ruthless or classic. It took mere 37 minutes for PV Sindhu to defeat her samurai opponent in the World Badminton Championship, interestingly in the home town of none other than Roger Federer, Basel Switzerland. The Hyderabadi lass, who has twice taken home the silver-spoon, notched up the historic World Championship gold. In what may seem like an act of revenge, the Indian beat Nozomi Okuhara: the very opponent who had beaten Sindhu at the same championship in Glasgow, Scotland almost two years back. Only this time it was a cold-blooded encounter as the Japanese Okuhara could manage just 14 points, before PV Sindhu ran away with the 21-7, 21-7 for her maiden victory.
And who else could be a better person to describe the taste of victory, than her own coach Pullela Gopichand who seated on the sidelines of the final? “Sindhu's victory is phenomenal. To be the World Champion is great but the way she has achieved is even more remarkable," said Gopi while talking to The Free Press Journal. She was aggressive and was never at any moment out of the game as she thrashed the opponent in all spirits of the one-sided affair. “It was one of the most Classic performances I have ever seen. She was very meticulous, sharp, powerful and aggressive. That is to say that she had won the match long before it was over," said the coach.
The gold is Sindhu's fifth medal at the World Championship. Apart from the two silver wins in 2016, 2017, she has won a bronze each in the 2013 and 2014 editions. She now joins former Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China (who won a gold, two silver and two bronze between 2001 and 2007) as the highest medal-winner in women's singles in the World Championships history.
“We have won many medals (not gold) in this championship in the past, but Sindhu has converted all those into gold by winning this," said Gopi, who now looks from Sindhu to deliver at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Meanwhile, accolades continued to pour in for newly-crowned World Champion P V Sindhu with India middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari and National chairman of selectors MSK Prasad congratulating the Indian ace shuttler for her historic feat.
"Great achievement for Indian sports and I would like to congratulate her on this special day and we as Indians are proud of her," said Hanuma, who scored 93 in the second innings against the West Indies to play a crucial role in India's 318-run win in the World Championship campaign opener at Antigua. "I hope she goes onto achieve many more laurels for the country in future," Vihari added. B Sai Praneeth also broke a 36-year long wait, becoming the first Indian male shuttle to win a medal at the World Championship. He won a bronze medal, emulating Prakash Padukone who had achieved the feat in 1983.Prasad also saluted the efforts of Sindhu and Praneeth and also lavished praise on national chief coach Pullela Gopichand for his contribution.
"Many many congratulations to PV Sindhu for winning the World Championship. This is a testimony for her hard work, commitment & Skills. Can't ask anything better from her. Whole country is proud of her," he said. "I would also like to appreciate Pullela Gopichand who has been the backbone of Indian Badminton. I personally know him and I have never seen anyone who is as committed as him. Hats off to Sindhu & Sai Praneeth and their Guru Gopichand." The BAI announced a cash reward of Rs 20 lakh following Sindhu's historic win at the World Championships. A cash reward of Rs 5 lakh was also announced for Praneeth.
Ajay K Singhania, general secretary of BAI, heaped praise on both the shuttler's efforts. "Sindhu has shown imperious performances as she defeated proven champions on course to her medal," "Credit to National Coach Gopichand and Foreign Coach Kim Ji Gung for their relentless efforts, also not to forget the way Sai Praneeth played to win a bronze medal. "I would like to congratulate both the shuttlers as such performances are true inspirations for the upcoming players."
Tears of joy
Sindhu might have worn a professional look during her dominating display in the final of the BWF World Championships when she crushed Japan's Nozomi Okuhara, but the shuttler has revealed that she couldn't control her emotions when the national anthem was played.
Taking to Twitter, she wrote: "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 "
Sindhu's gold is the second medal that India won at the Worlds this year with Sai Praneeth winning a bronze in men's singles category.
"I won for my country, I am really very proud," said an emotional Sindhu wearing a satisfied smile on her face.
"I would like to thank my coach (South Korean Kim Ji Hyun) and Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) and also my parents. Today is my mother's birthday, so happy birthday mom!" she added.
(With inputs from agencies)