Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, 18, stunned the Indian badminton circuit when she defeated the world No 12 PV Sindhu 21-11, 22-20 for the gold medal at the recently concluded South Asian Games. For the world No 133 and a product of the Gopichand Academy, it was one of the biggest wins of her career.
Her feat is even more astonishing after, less than a year ago, Ruthvika was bed-ridden for around three months owing to viral hepatitis which brought her down immediately after she won her maiden national championship at her hometown Vijayawada in February 2015.
“I was bed ridden for three months and I couldn’t move,” said Ruthvika of her grave condition. “I wanted to play and twice I went to the academy within three months. But Gopichand Sir told me to take rest and not to aggravate my health.”
“He told me to treat it like a holiday and enjoy the time with my family. I only wanted to play looking at others winning tournaments. I wasn’t able to walk. I was bed ridden. I really missed playing the game,” she added.
Her parents were the pillars of support for her during this period. “My parents have always been there for me. They have been supportive. My mother took care of my food, my health… basically she took care of everything,” said Ruthvika.
Now, after almost a year, Ruthvika is happy with the progress she has made. “It was only in January that I regained full fitness. During the period before and after the Syed Modi tournament we had very good physical training sessions which helped me a lot. The break in between helped me work on my fitness,” said Ruthvika, who is currently pursuing B.Com honours.
So what did she feel during her match against Sindhu--- one of her most memorable triumphs?
“Actually I was playing good in the first game and in the second game my tempo decreased. But I came back when we were playing 15-15, 16-16. That is when I told myself that I can do it,” said Ruthvika. “We have faced each other in practice matches and when I used to lead in a set during the practice sessions she would raise her game and beat me. So I guess that drove me to beat her and I kept telling myself that this time she shouldn’t do it.”
The national champion will defend her title in April and hopes to break into the top five soon. “I will be defending my national championship this year in April at Chandigarh. I want to break into the top five in the next five years and be part of the Olympic team in 2020. Playing tournaments will help me better my game and ranking,” she added.