Sindhu has already insight with the medal hunger at the upcoming RIO Olympics. This year, Sindhu has won a maiden Super Series final at Denmark, quarterfinalist at ABC, quarterfinalist at Indonesia Grand Prix, quarterfinalist at World Championship, defended her 2015 Macau title, and the latest being conferred with the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour at the age of just 20!
“I have made it to the top 10 in the past. So yes, I see myself grabbing the No. 1 ranking sometime soon. I am also sure that if not for my injury that forced me to stay out of court for a few months, my year-end ranking would have been better than number 12,” she asserts.
But Sindhu considers injuries “a part and parcel of an athlete’s life. I have picked myself up after the injury and got back to the court with a vengeance. In a way, that’s what injury does to a sportsperson; it makes you hungry for more, hungry to get back with a bang.”
And that’s what she did, ending the year with a title that is also a hat-trick. “What it is about Macau I don’t know,” the badminton ace says of her third consecutive Macau Open title. “People keep asking me this – ‘Is there some luck, some superpower at play at Macau?’ – and I am like ‘I really don’t know’,” she laughs. “I am super proud and happy of the fact that I have won it this year too, making it a hat-trick.”
She is also one of the highest paid players in the badminton league that will begin from January. “Well, I got the second highest bid, after Saina Nehwal,” Sindhu says with a wink and laugh, “But I am not yet in the crore club, I am still paid in lakhs.”
Asked about her height, “I am not sure if I can call it a weakness exactly. I have begun noticing of late that my opponents are handing me low shots. They play by the logic that I will have to work a lot harder to reach lower. So, right now, I am working on this particular challenge with my coach (Pullela Gopichand). I want to do everything right to prep for the Olympics.”
When asked about the preparations for her first ever Olympics, Sindhu quoted “More than being excited, I am just worried about how to give my best at Rio. It’s the qualifying year, and all tournaments are important. And, I don’t want to settle for anything less than gold,” Sindhu comments.
And to reach that dream, she is working hard on all fronts. “What happens with me is that I am all out there hitting hard, gaining points and beating even a player ranked higher than me. And then, sometimes, I have gone down even after taking leads against a player who is ranked lower. Here is where I think the problem is. Once I start missing points in a row, I tend to make more errors because in my head I begin to think, ‘Oh God! What’s happening? Why am I losing?’ But trust me, I am working on this. I think a sportsperson gains mental strength with experience.”
We’ve seen her strut her stuff on the ramp a few times in the recent past. Has she ever considered modelling? “No, no! I can’t imagine modelling as a career. Ramp walks are limited to those I have done in the past with other players as well. If I was offered a career in modelling, I would turn it down. I love playing badminton and will stick to it,” she says.