So then it begins, the oldest sporting extravaganza, THE OLYMPIC GAMES 2021 is just a month away. An event every badminton player dreams of winning, an event where the best of the best go head-to-head, an event an opportunity for every player to get his/her name in the history books as an ‘OLYMPIC MEDALIST’.
When the 25yr old, World No.7, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu takes to the court this Olympics, there will be a lot riding on her. In Indian badminton history, never has there been a case where a player has won consecutive medals at the Olympics. If Sindhu succeeds in winning a medal, she will become the ‘GREATEST’ ever in Indian Badminton.
To do that she has a herculean task at her hands. Although Carolina Marin, World No.3 has opted out of the Olympics due to an ACL tear, it won’t be a walk in the park for Sindhu. As she is up against the likes of World No.1, Tai Tzu Ying from Chinese Taipei, World No.2, Chen Yufei from China, World No.4, Nozomi Okuhara from Japan, World No.5, Akane Yamaguchi from Japan, and World No.6, Ratchanok Intanon from Thailand. All of whom have been at the top of their game.
- Tai Tzu Ying
The ‘DECEPTION QUEEN,’ widely considered as the all-time great of women’s badminton. TTY leads Sindhu11-5 in head-to-head wins. But when it comes to the BWF World Championships and Olympics TTY falls short. TTY who is 26yrs old might well be her last Olympic appearance and will look to make this count at any cost.
- Chen Yufei
When it comes to Chinese opponents PV Sindhu has always done well, she leads 6-3 against Chen Yufei. But World No.2 is in tremendous form as she has beaten all her top 10 opponents in all the events leading up to the Olympics. Chinese players have limited their participation in the BWF championships since the COVID-19 outbreak, this will be the second major event they will be playing (the first being the ALL ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIP in 2020).
- Nozomi Okuhara
The Japanese No.1 can be considered as Sindhu’s arch-rival as she has faced Okuhara as many as 17 times and the Indian Ace holds a 9-8 lead against the Japanese pocket dynamo. There are similarities and dissimilarities in this pair, tall & lanky vs stout & stocky. Both having won medals from their last Olympics, both have been BWF world championship winners, both born in 1995 four-month drift of each other. The last time these two champions came together, they produced a nail-biter, a 110min marathon of a match. Sindhu admits that Okuhara has always pushed her to the limits of her game and endurance.
- Akane Yamaguchi
PV Sindhu leads 11-8 against Yamaguchi, the most recent one was at the ALL ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS. Sindhu won the match 16-21, 21-16, 21-19 which was a 76minute humdinger of a match. Like the Chinese, even the Japanese don’t have enough match practice, but home advantage will be on their side. The 23yr old former world No.1 can be lethal for anyone on her best day.
- Ratchanok Intanon
The one to look out for, Intanon achieved celebrity status very early in her career. Fitness-related issues made her drop out of the mainframe. In the last few years, Intanon has worked hard and peaked at the right time. In the previous encounters, Intanon has successfully beaten Sindhu and she is one such player who has a positive head-to-head lead against the World No.1, Tai Tzu Ying. With her recent performances, she seems to be the most destructive of them all.
All set and done, everyone is as determined as one can be. Even though Marin has fallen out, the table seems to be open for all. On 08th August when the Olympic games end all that matters for Sindhu and her multitude of fans is a medal hanging down her neck.