PV Sindhu: Lessons from Thailand will help me come back stronger

The reigning world champion also talked about her experience in Bangkok and preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. She will be in action at the Swiss Open next.

By Utathya Nag

PV Sindhu’s return to the court after a year-long COVID-enforced hiatus didn’t quite go according to plan.

After playing the All England Championships in February last year, Sindhu marked her post-lockdown comeback with three tournaments – two editions of the Thailand Open and the BWF World Tour Finals - in January this year in Bangkok.

The rust was evident as PV Sindhu got knocked out in the first round at the Yonex Thailand Open and in the quarter-finals at the Toyota Thailand Open. At the BWF World Tour Finals, she won just a single match – not quite the performance a reigning world champion would be content with.

PV Sindhu, however, is aiming to use the lessons learnt from Bangkok to grow stronger in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

“Definitely, not a good start to the year but I am happy we’re back on the court again. It’s good to play sports. Winning and losing are a part of life but playing and enjoying sport is very important,” PV Sindhu told the Olympic Channel.

“I’ve learnt a lot from my losses in Bangkok. You do take away a lot from your mistakes. That’s what I picked up from the Asian leg. I came back and started training to iron out my chinks. I am hoping to come back much stronger,” she added.

Replicating Tokyo conditions

Since her return from Bangkok, PV Sindhu has made some tweaks to her training.

The Rio 2016 silver medallist moved out of her usual training base at the Pullela Gopichand Academy to train at the Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad under South Korean coach Park Tae Sang.

With most of India’s top shuttlers still training at the Gopichand academy, PV Sindhu’s shift to the Gachibowli, where she is sparring against relatively junior players, raised some eyebrows.

“I think playing at Gachibowli will be an advantage for me. I am looking forward to Tokyo, where it’ll be a big stadium we’ll be playing in. Practising at Gachibowli will help me get used to bigger stadiums,” PV Sindhu.

In larger arenas, the shuttle moves at a different speed compared to smaller competition halls and the Indian plans to simulate some of the drift conditions in Tokyo, also making use of air-conditioners and blowers.

“It’s not easy to play in big stadiums. The flight of the shuttle differs a lot. If you practice at bigger stadiums it gets easier for you to adjust. That’s the only reason I am training at the Gachibowli,” PV Sindhu explained.

“It was good I got the opportunity. I aim to make the most of it because the ultimate aim is to get the gold medal at Tokyo. To achieve that, I can do anything,” she added.

With the Olympic qualification window reopening post-COVID disruptions, PV Sindhu’s bid to qualify for Tokyo resumes with the Swiss Open from March 2. The Indian ace faces Turkey’s Neslihan Yigit in the first round at Basel.

Points earned at the Swiss Open will count towards Race to Tokyo Rankings, a programme that will ultimately decide which shuttler gets a ticket to play at the Tokyo Summer Games in July.