No favourites for Tokyo gold: India's Sindhu

NEW DELHI • India's badminton superstar PV Sindhu has her eye on gold at the Olympics but warned the road to the final in Tokyo will be tough in a wide-open women's singles featuring most of the world's top players.

The 2016 Olympic silver medallist, who turned 26 this month, is determined to become just the second individual Olympic gold medallist for India in the history of the Games.

She said that apart from Spain's Carolina Marin, who beat her to gold in 2016 but will not be able to defend her title because of injury, any one of the world's leading players could finish on the top step of the podium.

"It's not going to be easy. There are other good players, like Tai (Tzu-ying), (Nozomi) Okuhara, Ratchanok (Intanon), (Akane) Yamaguchi, Chen Yufei," said Sindhu.

"You cannot expect easy wins or easy matches because it's the Olympics and everybody is going to be prepared for it."

The 2019 world champion said winning gold was on her mind "most of the time". Bagging the top prize would be particularly special for India, which has won only one individual gold - shooter Abhinav Bindra in the 10m air rifle at Beijing 2008.

"I tell myself, 'It's okay, I have to do well and not think about what's going to happen in the future, and take one match at a time'," she added.

Sindhu, who first caught the badminton world's attention when she broke into the top 20 in September 2012, has been training under South Korean Park Tae-sang since 2019.

At the All England badminton championships - the last international tournament ahead of the Games - she lost in the semi-final to Thai Pornpawee Chochuwong.

Sindhu is now seventh in the women's rankings, which are led by Chinese Taipei's Tai, who beat Marin to capture last year's World Tour Finals.

Many athletes' preparations for the Games have been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, but Sindhu said badminton players have been using the time to refine their technique.

"Every athlete would have learnt a new skill or new technique and that is going to be really very tricky," said Sindhu.

"Playing freshly after a couple of months definitely is going to be different. Everybody might come with new strategies."

She said she had been working on her technique and skills with Park. "Definitely I am 100 per cent right now. For me ranking does not matter because if you play well and win - automatically your ranking will go up."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2021, with the headline 'No favourites for Tokyo gold: India's Sindhu'. Subscribe