Pusarla Venkata Sindhu was born on 5 July 1995. She is an Indian professional badminton player, who is currently world no 3 in the BWF World Ranking. At the 2016 Summer Olympics, she became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal. She is one of the two Indian badminton players to ever win an Olympic medal – other being Saina Nehwal. She was also a silver medalist at the 2017 BWF World Championships and, in 2017, became first Indian ever to win Korea Open Super Series.
Image Source: The Indian Express
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Sindhu’s parents were both volleyball players, with her father being an Arjuna Award recipient for that sport. Her sister was a national-level handball player who eventually gave up her sporting career to become a doctor. Sindhu took up neither volleyball nor handball, as she was inspired by the success of Pullela Gopichand at a young age. Little did she know that Gopichand would become her coach in two years and take her to an Olympic medal victory.
Gopichand’s victory at the 2001 All England Open Badminton Championships, the world’s oldest annual badminton tournament, inspired Sindhu to pick up the badminton racquet. As a child, she did not get many chances to play with the senior players, so she was advised by renowned badminton coach Mehboob Ali to do wall practice “till the paint peeled off.”
On turning 18, Sindhu got employed with Bharat Petroleum as an Assistant Sports Manager. She won her first Grand Prix Gold title at the 2013 Malaysian Open, and also became India’s first medalist in women’s singles at the 2013 Badminton World Championships. Sindhu ended the year by winning the 2013 Macau Open Grand Prix Gold title, and was honoured with the Arjuna Award by the Govt. of India. This was a very special moment for Sindhu as her father had won the Arjuna Award for Volleyball after a very long time into his career.
Sindhu is known today for her success in the game of badminton, because it had been her top priority since the very beginning. She missed her class X board exams, her sister’s wedding ceremony, and even the award ceremony where she was supposed to receive the Arjuna Award, because she put badminton first in all three cases. Sindhu always knew (or had her parents and coaches to let her know) what really mattered in the long run. Her parents played a major role in creating all the conditions for Sindhu to get going with Badminton, in spite of being national-level Volleyball players. And the mentor who played the greatest role in enabling Sindhu to become an Olympic medalist was Pullela Gopichand, the same person who inspired up to pick up the badminton racquet in her childhood.