After a 10-month-long break, ace shuttler P V Sindhu will return to action next week with her eyes firmly set on the Tokyo Olympics.
She will take part in the Thailand Open BWF World Tour Super 1000, scheduled to be held in Bangkok between January 12 to 17. It is the first big tournament of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) after the COVID-19 pandemic that had disrupted the 2020 calendar. The last tournament attended by Sindhu was the All England Open Badminton Championships in March, 2020.
The extended lockdown and the cancellation of tournaments have not hampered her Olympics preparation as she has been undergoing a rigorous training programme in London for the past two months. The 25-year-old Olympic silver medalist, who is part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme core group, spoke to Malayala Manorama over the phone from London before heading for Thailand.
Excerpts from the interview:
You are returning to competitive action after a long break. Are you concerned about your form?
I must admit I am a little bit worried. I have not played a single international match since last March. It is concerning although I know the fear is unreasonable because every player is going through the same situation. It will be a huge test for all of us. I have been preparing to be ready when the time comes to return to the court. I had created a home training system to do workouts and practice. The training programme in London has also been very useful. I'm confident of doing well in the upcoming tournaments.
Your immediate goal must be a top finish at the Tokyo Olympics. How much have you improved as a player since winning the silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016?
I went to Rio as the No. 10 ranked player in the world. I was also recovering from an injury. My record against the top-ranked players was poor then. During the last five years, I gained some valuable international exposure. I could also improve my fitness and technique. Now I'm confident of beating any player under any condition. I will be playing at Tokyo as the world champion. That is also a confidence-booster.
How do you react to the controversies over your decision to train in London?
I understood that those who love you the most can hurt you the most. There were rumours that I fought with my family and coaches before I went to London. In fact, it was a pre-planned trip and I went there with the permission of my family members and Gopi sir (coach Pullela Gopichand). I am eager to meet them all after the tournament in Thailand.
COVID-19 has been the highly unprecedented reality of the year 2020. What are your positive takeaways from the crisis?
I made good use of the lockdown as I did not compromise on my fitness and training schedule during the period. I’m also glad that I could spend quality time with my family. I got a chance to stay with my elder sister Divya and her son Aryan after many years. I was able to dabble in new things such as cooking. Indoor games with family members were also real fun. It was for the first time since I started playing at the senior level that I spent that much time with my family.
Will you return to London for training after the tournament in Bangkok?
No. I will go straight back to Hyderabad from Thailand and then join the national camp. I want to prepare well for the Tokyo Olympics. I am looking forward to playing as many tournaments as possible before the Olympics.