Sindhu: It would have been good if Saina and Kidambi had qualified

Nehwal and Srikanth finished outside the top 16 of the singles rankings in the Race to Tokyo standings, thereby missing out on Olympic berths.

PV Sindhu [L] and Saina Nehwal in a file photo; Credit: Twitter

PV Sindhu is the only Indian female badminton player to have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Unlike the last Olympics in Rio, she will not have the support of her compatriot Saina Nehwal. The 31-year-old shuttler and Kidambi Srikanth finished outside the top 16 of the singles rankings in the Race to Tokyo standings, thereby missing out on Olympic berths. Four Indians have qualified for the July-August Olympics – Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, and Chirag Shetty. Sindhu and Praneeth will represent India in women’s and men’s singles, while Rankireddy and Shetty have booked a ticket for the men’s doubles event.

Speaking from Hyderabad in a virtual media interaction, facilitated by the Sports Authority on Thursday, Sindhu had her say about Saina and Kidambi’s absence. “It would have been good if Saina and Kidambi Srikanth had qualified. It would have been great for the Indian contingent. The BWF guys are trying to make it happen but unfortunately because of the Covid situation, tournaments are getting cancelled,” she added.

“At the end of the day, life comes first. In the Olympics, I’m sure they are following all protocols. Things are getting better about the Covid situation. The Japan Government is really taking care to see the Olympics will happen, that’s what I hear. They’ll be testing us every single day and we’ll be in a bio bubble. Hoping by then cases will be reducing and we all will be fine.”

‘No pressure this time’

Saina and Kidambi’s chances of making it to the Olympics were depleted by the postponement of tournaments that served as qualifiers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the entire nation’s hopes rest on Sindhu to bag a medal in Tokyo. Back in 2016, she was not the favourite, but the Hyderabadi shuttler defied odds to win a silver medal.

When asked about how Tokyo will be different from Rio, she replied, “There is no pressure this time. Yes, 2016 was completely different. Responsibilities are lot more now. In Tokyo, I just want to go out there and give my 100 per cent. I just want to take it day by day. I didn’t know the feel and atmosphere last time as it was my first Olympics. But now I know. Responsibilities and expectations are there.”

“Every player will read your game and everyone knows one another’s game. I need to go with different plans and strategies. Everybody is going to come with new skills. I’m doing my strength work in Suchitra academy and get a lot of sparring partners from there. There are a lot of facilities in Gachibowli where I’m training now. It is a good international stadium and I’m making sure I get used to those big stadiums before moving to Tokyo.”

As part of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ Target Olympic Podium Scheme, Sindhu has been given a financial support of Rs 39.5 lakh since 2019 towards participation in international competitions, overseas training, recovery equipment, support staff, out of pocket allowance. “We’ve been getting all the facilities from the Indian Govt and also following the Covid protocols. I want to thank SAI and TOPS for their constant support,” she added.

Sportslumo Desk

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