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P.V. Sindhu will be taking on world’s no. 1 badminton star Carolina Marin, a Spaniard, for a gold medal in the finals on Friday evening. Photo: Reuters
P.V. Sindhu will be taking on world’s no. 1 badminton star Carolina Marin, a Spaniard, for a gold medal in the finals on Friday evening. Photo: Reuters

Rio Olympics: 10 things to know about P.V. Sindhu

Where does P.V. Sindhu's on-court aggression come from? Who are her favourite movie stars? Things you don't know about the badminton star

Hyderabad: Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, or P.V. Sindhu, on Thursday scripted history by becoming the first Indian badminton player to storm into Olympic finals in the singles event. Her feat has assured the second medal for India in Rio Olympics.

Sindhu will be taking on world’s no. 1 badminton star Carolina Marin, a Spaniard, for a gold medal in the finals on Friday evening.

Here are 10 things about Sindhu and her successful Olympic march to the title clash:

1. The 21-year-old Sindhu started playing badminton when she was just six, though it was more of a pastime then. She used to play in her neighbourhood in West Marredpally, Secunderabad. Sindhu now lives in Kokapet, an emerging suburb close to Gachibowli—the information technology hub of Hyderabad—and also houses the famous Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy where she does her practice.

2. Sindhu’s parents P.V. Ramana and P. Vijaya were both volleyball players. Ramana was an Arjuna awardee and was a member of the Indian volleyball team that won the bronze medal in 1986 Seoul Asian Games. Her mother P. Vijaya took voluntary retirement from the Indian Railways to dedicate time for Sindhu. Her father is on a long leave from the Indian Railways to help her prepare for the Olympic campaign. Sindhu’s elder sister P.V. Divya was a national-level handball player. She gave up her sporting career to become a doctor.

3. Being a sportsman himself, Ramana used to take his two daughters to the IAS Officers’ Club courts when they were children. Later, following the advice of a coach, he took Sindhu to a badminton court at the Indian Railways Institute Of Signal Engineering and Telecommunications. In an interview to the New Indian Express, her mother Vijaya said that as a seven-year-old, Sindhu did not get to play with seniors, so the late Mehboob Ali, a renowned badminton coach, advised her to do wall practice and told her not to quit till the paint peeled. “She wouldn’t grumble. Her commitment and involvement were intense right from childhood," Vijaya was quoted as saying.

4. Before joining the tutelage of coach Pullela Gopichand, India’s ace shuttler and former All England Badminton champion, around 2004, Sindhu got her early coaching from renowned coaches, including S.M. Arif and Govardhan Reddy, besides Mehboob Ali.

5. Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad marked the turning point for Sindhu. The academy is built by Gopichand and funded by Nimmagadda Prasad, a Hyderabad-based entrepreneur known better as ‘Matrix’ Prasad, who sold pharma company Matrix to Mylan. The academy houses world-class infrastructure for badminton, and facilities such as swimming pool, health club, rehabilitation and wellness centre, a football ground, running track, ice and steam bath facilities, jacuzzi and a cafeteria. Along with Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, bronze medallist in London Olympics, 2012, Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashyap are products of Gopichand’s academy.

Also Read: Rio Olympics: P.V. Sindhu’s gold quest

6. In addition to focus on fitness and game strategy, Gopichand was also credited for pushing soft-natured Sindhu to be aggressive on court. At five feet and eleven inches, Sindhu is the tallest player among the present crop of international women shuttlers. Her height is not only an intimidating factor but also gives her a distinct advantage of covering the court well.

7. Sindhu is a two-time bronze medallist at the World badminton championship in 2013 and 2014. She won Macau Open Grand Prix Open three times in a row, and won an Arjuna award at the age of 18.

8. Chennai-based franchise, Chennai Smashers, got Sindhu for $94,000 in the recently-concluded Premier Badminton League auction. Sindhu is the third-most expensive player, behind Malaysian Lee Chong Wei and India’s Saina Nehwal.

9. Sindhu, who spends much of her time on the court and travel, likes to catch up with movies and music when she has free time. Her favourite movie stars are Mahesh Babu and Prabhas. She said she watches more movies on flights than in theatres. She doesn’t enjoy going to parties. On Sundays, she takes a break from her practice and spends time with her family. Sindhu’s parents take care of her financial and other matters, to help her concentrate on the game. Sindhu hangs around mostly with her fellow Hyderabadi badminton players.

She relishes Hyderabadi Paradise dum biryani, along with mutton keema and fish cooked by her mother.

10. Known as a giant-killer, Sindhu has beaten her Spanish opponent and world No. 1, Carolina Marin, twice, including in the semi-finals of Denmark Open Series last year. Marin, however, leads 4-2 in six encounters they faced.

Also Read: I’ll give my heart for gold: PV Sindhu after Rio Olympics semi-final victory

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