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Why choker PV Sindhu is still not pure gold standard

PV Sindhu choked in the final of the BWF World Badminton Championships in Glasgow on Sunday. Sindhu lost a tactical match against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, who was seeded below her

other sports Updated: Aug 29, 2017 10:36 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PV Sindhu,Nozomi Okuhara,Saina Nehwal
PV Sindhu, leading at 19-17, had the third game and title in her grasp but could only pocket one of the next six points against Nozomi Okuhara during their women's singles final of the BWF World Badminton Championships at Emirates Arena in Glasgow on Sunday.(AFP)

Sunday’s final between World No.4 PV Sindhu and Nozomi Okuhara will be remembered for ages. Lasting an hour and 50 minutes, not only was it the second longest match in the history of women’s singles but was unquestionably one of the greatest badminton matches ever played. But sport is cruel and as they say, there is always a winner and a loser. (FINAL HIGHLIGHTS)

PV Sindhu is returning with a silver, her third medal from the world badminton championships after claiming bronzes in 2013 and 2014. For Okuhara, it was a historic gold, the first for Japan in 40 years.

Silver medallist in Rio 2016, Sindhu certainly deserves all the accolades for reaching the world championships final, being only the second Indian to do so after Saina Nehwal in 2015. But we need to think for a moment – what are we celebrating here?

When Sindhu ‘won’ the silver at Rio, it was a unique occasion – an Indian woman had claimed the metal for the first time at Olympics. Given India’s poor returns from the world’s greatest event, it was worth celebrating. But how long will India celebrate being the second best?

A year on, 22-year-old PV Sindhu has emerged a stronger athlete, technically and mentally. Since Rio Olympics, she has won China Open, India Open and Syed Modi GP Gold titles.

But is that enough? This may sound harsh but the Glasgow loss was a failure. A big one.

A player of Sindhu’s potential was expected to win the final against an opponent, who was ranked eight rungs below her.

Many would argue that it was touch-and-go. Sure it was. But that is what is expected in tight matches. A top athlete is expected to show nerves of steel, produce that additional ounce of stamina and demonstrate that extra edge to kill the opposition. Sindhu failed on all three aspects.

At 19-17, Sindhu had the third game and title in her grasp. It is difficult to digest that she could pocket only one of the next six points, letting the championship slip away.

And why shouldn’t she feel the pressure? She is representing India and not any club. She is expected to play in adversities and come out on top.

In the last one year, Sindhu has played 17 matches that stretched to the third game. She won 10 and lost seven. Six of those seven losses have come against players who were unseeded or seeded below her. A top-5 player of the world certainly has to have a better record than that.

Take Spain’s Carolina Marin for example. Just two years older than Sindhu, Marin comes from a country with no recognisable heritage in badminton. But she won gold at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships, following it up with gold at Rio 2016.

Okuhara had come well-prepared for the final. By being drawn into long rallies, Sindhu lost the plot, drained her reserves of energy and finally went down on the big points.

PV Sindhu is undoubtedly one of top sportspersons of our country but till she does a Marin or a Okuhara, she will not be pure gold standard.

First Published: Aug 28, 2017 23:33 IST