No more bronze, no more silver – she is finally the undisputed golden girl!
A year after she dissolved into tears in Nanjing, Pusarla V. Sindhu silenced her critics and vanquished her demons in emphatic, thumping fashion this afternoon, winning the women’s singles world title in her third consecutive final – and creating history as the first person from her country to land a world championship.
Forget their 110-minute marathon in Glasgow that ended in Okuhara’s favour two years ago, and the loss to Carolina Marin last year, this time it was all “Sindhu, Sindhu” with the 9,000 fans packed into St. Jakobshalle urging her on to a brighter destiny. For them, and for her 1.35 billion compatriots back home, she delivered with an all-round display that gave her Japanese rival no chance whatsoever.
Mostly though, she delivered for herself.
Tired of endless questions about if she would ever get gold – and with the added incentive of the final falling on her mother’s birthday – the usually bubbly athlete, with two bronze and two silver medals at this level previously, strode onto court looking serious and meaning business – and it was all business from the buzzer.
Whether attacking, defending or rallying, Pusarla bossed the match, repeatedly catching the powerless Okuhara off-guard with clinical kills as she rushed forward, anticipating the flight of the next shuttle. She was everywhere – jumping, lunging, smashing, front court, back court and large and in charge at the net.
When her job was done and the victory won, she could at last proclaim herself champion of the world.
“I’m so happy. I was expecting this for a long time. It’s definitely a proud moment for me and for India. A lot of people have been waiting,” said the new queen of badminton.
“This is my answer to the people who have asked me questions over and over. I just wanted to answer with my racket and with this win – that’s all.”
Back to her effervescent best in the aftermath, she giggled at the thought of more, if different, questions now.
“Yes, people are already asking ‘Sindhu, what about gold in Tokyo 2020?’,” said the Rio 2016 silver medallist, adding that today will “motivate me a lot more”.
“Badminton is my passion and I feel that I can win more titles.”
Of her scintillating match play, she smiled with satisfaction; a smile that resonated ‘it’s been a long time coming’.
“I was dominating. It was important for me to be very alert and every point really mattered to me. I tried to get every point even though I was leading by a large margin,” said the star who also beat Beiwen Zhang, Tai Tzu Ying and Chen Yu Fei en route to glory.
“I was prepared for everything. At times, I was nervous but I was determined to finish it off.”
And so she did – earning her place atop the podium at long last. It’s something she will forever remember – the medal being placed around her neck and all the pomp and ceremony that accompany such occasions.
“I had goosebumps when I heard them say ‘world champion’ and when the national anthem was played and I saw the Indian flag being raised. There are really no words to describe that. I’ve waited a long time.
“I felt really bad after the first World Championships final and last year I was angry, I was sad. I went through all my emotions, asking ‘Sindhu, why can’t you get this one match?’ but today came and I told myself to play my game and not worry – and it worked out.”