P V Sindhu put an end to the drought India faced in World Badminton Championship bagging the first gold by a shuttler. And she did it with great aplomb, defeating the world Number 4 Nozomu Okuhara of Japan in just 38 minutes. This is the third consecutive year she entered the world championship, though in the previous two occasions she had to satisfy with a silver and bronze. It is also her fifth world championship medal. Now she will head to Tokyo Olympics as the reigning world champion.
Sindhu’s victory is a timely signal to the authorities concerned. Champions are not made in a day or two; neither do they come to the victory stand on their own. Years of consistent practice and guidance are the two elements that catapult them to the top of the podium. In Sindhu’s case the quality of mentoring by former champions like Pullela Gopichand and Prakash Padukone did the magic. More than any government’s involvement, it is the personal efforts and commitment of Sindhu and Gopichand that made the former a golden girl. Abhinav Bindra, who got gold medal in shooting in Olympics, had confessed that it was his industrialist family which had supported him all the way to the victory stand. What governments do in other countries for upcoming sportspersons, it has to be done at personal level in India in most cases.
The shuttler’s historic victory sends out yet another message to sports authorities in the country: There is a world outside cricket which can bring laurels to a nation of 130 crore, constantly struggling to reach the podium at world games and sports. In the last few years, wrestlers and shooters have proved their mettle. Now, Sindhu has opened a new window to success at global-level in yet another sports event. The authorities should latch on to it and turn arc lights on games and sports which have the potential to bring glory to the country.
While the world was celebrating Sindhu’s victory, yet another girl made India proud at a world event. It was para-badminton player Manasi Joshi who got the first gold in women’s singles category at the world championship at Basel in Switzerland, the same place which witnessed Sindhu’s victory. Mansi’s victory did not see people going wild with celebration, but it won millions of hearts. India does not lack talents; what it lacks is all-round support from authorities and people in various games and sports. Unfortunately, athletes are relegated to the back-stage with not enough facilities to train themselves while authorities take centre-stage and garner most benefits.
Minister of State for Sports Kiren Rijiju’s words, if put into practice with sincerity, are re-assuring to the upcoming sportspersons: “Government will provide the best support and facilities to produce champions.” But such words often remain more in publicity sphere and hardly get translated to the ground level. A level-playing field for sportspersons of all categories can bring more laurels to the country which lacks direction and will, not talents.(Published on 02nd September 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 36)