By Tridib Baparnash
Impressed by Badminton Association of India (BAI) President Himanta Biswa Sarma's initiative to create a pool of players for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, star shuttler Pusarla Venkata Sindhu said the country has immense talent and the day is not far when another Sindhu or Saina Nehwal will emerge.
Sindhu, who recently bettered her bronze medal performances at the 2013 and 2014 World Championships to clinch the silver at the 2017 edition in Glasgow, went down to Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in a nerve-wrecking one hour 50-minute final at the Emirates Arena on Sunday.
This was India's best show in a World Badminton Championship with the country bagging two medals for the first time. Sindhu's city mate Saina had settled for the bronze on Saturday after losing her semi-final to Okuhara.
But women's singles in India suffers from a lack of depth as, apart from the Hyderabadi duo, there is absolutely no other big name in the national circuit. But Sindhu is hopeful of seeing emerging shuttlers making it big on the international stage.
"I wish the very best to the BAI. I would like to see a second Sindhu coming up and that is very much possible. India has immense talent," Sindhu told IANS in a telephonic interview.
At 22, Sindhu has four medals from global tournaments, including a silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics, besides the various Superseries and Grand Prix titles, but the hunger is still on.
"It really feels amazing! However, this is just the beginning and I have a long way to go and many more laurels to bring for India," she said.
Asked about the deciding game of the World Championship final, when both Sindhu and Okuhara were locked at 20-20, the Hyderabadi said: "All I was thinking was to play one point at a time and move ahead. I wanted to stay away from the pressure and focus on my game."
Prior to their World Championship final, Sindhu and Okuhara enjoyed a 3-3 head-to-head record and the tie could have headed either way on Sunday.
Commenting on her opponent, Sindhu said: "Okuhara was never easy... It was the final and obviously was going to be a tough one with tough rallies going on."
"I never took her easy. I was prepared for the match to be really long, but unfortunately it wasn't my day," she added.
Sindhu finished her semi-final at around 2:30 am on Sunday morning and she was again back on the court after 17 hours for the final, which went on for 110 minutes to become the second-longest women's singles final in history.
When probed about her preparations for the summit clash, Sindhu stressed on the importance of sound sleep and good food.
"Well, I didn't have too much time between my final and semi-final. Hence I focused on resting well to be ready for the finals. There was nothing much we could do with the scheduling of the tournament; so I rested well," she said.
Besides national coach Pullela Gopichand, Sindhu credited her Indonesian coach Mulyo Handoyo for helping improve her fitness level, which was evident from the 73-shot rally in the second game.
"Along with Gopichand, I have been training under an Indonesian coach who has helped immensely in training for the games as well as for fitness. Everyone is asking about that particular rally, but every rally was equally long and there were too many shots from both sides. We both were really tired but it turned out to be one exciting contest," she said.
Sindhu, who was made Bridgestone India's brand ambassador for three years on Wednesday, is now aiming to continue her winning momentum at the Korea and Japan super series, in September.
On a lighter note, the shuttler revealed that she had to sacrifice her favourite ice creams and biryani for the World Championship silver.
(Tridib Baparnash can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)