By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, After Saina Nehwal, another Indian girl is creating ripples in the badminton circuit.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu created history by becoming the first Indian to win the girls’ singles title in the Asian Youth Under-19 Championships.
The 17-year-old Hyderabadi has already set her eyes on the world number one position. “I want to become world number one,” Sindhu told IANS on her return from Gimcheon, South Korea.
The daughter of former volleyball players, who took to badminton at the age of eight-and-half years, has fast climbed the ladder of success thanks to her sterling performances, mostly at the senior level. She currently ranks world number 25, a huge jump from 151 a few months ago.
The World No.2 in the junior ranking defeated Okuhara Nozomi of Japan 18-21, 21-17, 22-20 in the final of the Asian Youth Under-19 Championship.
“I defeated Sun Yu of China in quarter-final. Last year, I had lost to the same girl in the semi-final,” said Sindhu, who turned 17 July 5. Sindhu, who recently completed her Class 12, is the only player since the legendary Prakash Padukone to hold both junior and senior national titles.
Last month, she lost the pre-quarter-finals in Thailand as also in the Indonesian open which Saina Nehwal went on to win.
In 2011, she won three international challenge events in the Maldives, Indonesia and India, and claimed Swiss International title. She was the runner-up in the Dutch open.
For Sindhu, this success has come after a hard work of just over eight years and the sacrifices made by her parents and the help and encouragement of her coaches.
“I was only eight-and-half years when I started playing badminton near my house in Secunderabad. Mohammed Ali was my first coach,” recalled Sindhu.
She then started training at the Lal Bahadur Stadium and later moved to the Pullela Gopichand Academy, where she now practices with the likes of Saina, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa.
Her father P.V.Ramna was a volleyball player. The Arjuna Award winner is now sports officer in the railways. Her mother also played volleyball.
“Playing badminton was my own interest. My dad didn’t force me to play volleyball or any other game. They left the choice to me and encouraged me a lot,” said Sindhu, who is supported by Olympic Gold Quest, a not-for-profit foundation that identifies and supports Indian athletes.
“Gopichand Academy is located 27 km away from my house but my father was always there to drop me and to take me back home after the training,” pointed out Sindhu, whose family has now shifted to a house near the academy in Gacchibowli area.
For Sindhu, her coach and former All England champion Pullela Gopichand is her ideal.
“It is a fantastic victory. Being the first Indian to win this and also the fact that she is very young, she is a very good prospect for future. I hope this performance will give her more confidence and we will have even more better results in future,” said Gopichand.
“She will be part of the team which plays in Super Series. She is a great potential and not far away from senior titles and big titles. We expect that she will be in top 10 in the coming year,” the Indian coach told IANS.
“Saina is doing wonders at the highest level and someone like Sindhu doing well is very encouraging. It is not very often that we get a chance to get player after player. We have been consistent. It is good that Saina is 22, Sindhu is 17 and both these players have done very well.”
The Gopichand Academy is working on few more players. “We have couple of other young players who are in the pipeline. Hopefully, we will be able to continuously produce those level of players,” he added. (IANS)