Sindhu aims higher af­ter win

Shut­tler pinned as In­dia’s hopes for Olympic gold

Global Times US Edition - - SPORTS -

Dubbed “sil­ver girl” for a string of near-misses on the in­ter­na­tional stage, In­dia’s Pusarla Sindhu hopes to have fi­nally shed that un­wanted moniker af­ter cap­tur­ing her first world bad­minton cham­pi­onships ti­tle at the week­end.

Sindhu be­came In­dia’s first bad­minton world cham­pion when she beat Ja­pan’s No­zomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 to win the women’s sin­gles in Basel on Sun­day, a vic­tory that also boosted the nation’s hopes of an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo next year.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing run­ner-up at the 2016 Olympics, last year’s Com­mon­wealth Games and Asian Games and the pre­vi­ous two world cham­pi­onships fi­nals, Sindhu was de­lighted to stand on top of the podium.

“I was ex­pect­ing this for a long time. It’s def­i­nitely a proud mo­ment for me and for In­dia. A lot of people have been wait­ing,” the 24-year-old from Hyderabad told re­porters.

“This is my answer to the people who have asked me questions over and over. I just wanted to answer with my racket and with this win – that’s all.”

Sindhu played in five other fi­nals last year with­out win­ning any of them, rais­ing questions about her men­tal strength.

In Switzer­land, how­ever, she re­moved any doubts about her game, rain­ing down one fe­ro­cious smash af­ter an­other on Okuhara to fin­ish the match in 38 min­utes.

“I had goose bumps when I heard them say ‘world cham­pion’ and when the na­tional an­them was played and I saw the In­dian flag be­ing raised,” said an emo­tional Sindhu. “There are really no words to de­scribe that,”

While In­dia’s field hockey team have won eight Olympic ti­tles, shooter Ab­hi­nav Bin­dra re­mains the only in­di­vid­ual gold medal­ist for the coun­try of 1.3 bil­lion, who are starved of top sport­ing suc­cess outside cricket.

With her sil­ver medal from Rio, Sindhu is al­ready In­dia’s most suc­cess­ful fe­male Olympian, though she has no intention of rest­ing on her lau­rels.

“Well, one goal is achieved and the next one is there – Olympics,” she told The Hindu news­pa­per. “I will really work hard and will pre­pare to win that one also by do­ing well in the Su­per Se­ries in the run-up to the Tokyo Games next year.”

Away from the court, Sindhu has also struck gold – she was tied for 13th in Forbes’ list of the high­est-paid fe­male ath­letes over the last year with $5.5 mil­lion.

Sports mar­ket­ing firm Base­line Ventures, which man­ages Sindhu, said the ath­lete cur­rently en­dorses 14 brands and her off-court earn­ings trail only cricket cap­tain Vi­rat Kohli among the coun­try’s sport­ing elite.

“There will be a lot more people who will be po­ten­tially in­ter­ested,” Base­line man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Tuhin Mishra said. “Sindhu com­mands a cer­tain price and a lot of spon­sors are al­ready with her due to her qual­i­ties... It’s not a flash in the pan as lots of fac­tors are at play for the spon­sors.”

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