Chief coach Pullela Gopichand’s dreams have come true as PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal won silver and bronze medals at the Jakarta Asian Games.
Hyderabad: It was a dream come true, literally, for chief coach Pullela Gopichand. It could have been a flawless script in women’s singles. Nevertheless PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal returned with Asian Games silver and bronze medals respectively. It was one of the memorable moments as the two sporting legends displayed their medals proudly along with a beaming coach at the Academy here on Thursday.
A gold medal would have been a perfect icing on the cake, but the very fact that these badminton icons created history by becoming the first Indian women shuttlers to stand on the podium at the Asian Games was a perfect reason for celebration.
For Sindhu, it is yet another big occasion as she became the first Indian to win a silver medal in badminton in Asian Games. The radiant smile said it all although there was a tinge of disappointment as she missed the bus for the third successive time. She raised the hopes with a brilliant show at Rio Olympics, Nanjing World Championship and now Asian Games, but only to fall at the last hurdle. But she is only 23 years old and there is more to come. “It is always a pleasure to be with Sindhu and Saina. Both are making the country proud as they became the first women’s badminton medalists in Asian Games,’’ said Gopichand.
An optimistic Gopichand added that Saina and Sindhu lost to a very good player in Tai Tzu Ying.
“They played really well and lost to someone who is playing exceptionally well. I think, what they achieved is phenomenal. We can aspire for more and we should aspire for more. Hopefully, in the next Olympics and Asian Games we will come back with a gold.”
Sindhu pointed out that for the first time, there were two medals from badminton in Asian Games. “It is a proud moment for the country. When we stand on the podium, it is really great to see our national flag flying high. We can’t express that feeling and Asian Games is something special. Getting a silver medal in my second Asian Games makes me happy. I had got a bronze in the team event last time.’’
The 23-year-old said it was a great journey starting from Rio Olympics. “I think, winning a silver medal in Olympics or World Championship or Asian Games is not easy. There are expectations and people want us to win a medal every time we play in a tournament. I can’t compare this feat with Rio and World Championship. It is totally different but they are all special moments for me.’’
The silver medal will give her a lot of confidence, she feels. “We learned from every tournament. There is a lot to learn.”Sindhu, who lost to Tai Tzu Ying, said it is hard to lose in a final. “But we have to come back stronger. There is a long way to go and there are many more tournaments to prove your mettle. Anyone will be sad with the loss. But, all we need to do is to come back strongly. You need to be better and focus on the next one.”
Saina echoed Sindhu’s feelings. “It is not easy to win medals in these games as it comes only once in four years. It is important to hold your nerves, particularly in the tight situations. It is tough right from the first round. People expect us to win medals. Sometimes, we fail and sometimes we come back with medals. It is always a great feeling when we win medals.”
The London Olympic bronze medallist said this Jakarta Games was a special one. “I have been hunting for this medal in the last three Asian Games. I’m very happy that I could win finally and I have medals in all the other major events (Olympics, Commonwealth and Super Series). Of course, I would like to better these performances, so I need to work hard.”
Saina said she has to work harder against a few tougher rivals. “I think it is not easy to come out from a surgery. There are a lot of things which come with injury like rehab and rest. There were some flaws in my movement, which resulted in me becoming a little sluggish. Gopi sir said I was getting tired because of these flaws. It is changing, but requires some more time. I was much faster in Asian Games than in the World championship. Whenever I lose, I try and learn something.”
Saina said Tai is Lady Taufiq Hidayat, the former Indonesian world champion, as she has all strokes in her game. “When I saw her playing Sindhu in the final, she was hitting the backhand harder than the forehand. We are trying hard. She and Carolina (Marin) are the only two players whom we find as the winning formula. We need a good strategy. It would not be easy.”