St Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, was ready to welcome a new badminton world champion on Sunday. But when India’s PV Sindhu declared that it was her mother’s birthday and she wanted to dedicate the title to her, the packed stadium did something more —“happy birthday to you” started reverberating around the indoor facility.
Without doubt this was the best birthday present that P. Vijaya, Sindhu’s mother, could ever get.
Because just minutes before that declaration, her daughter had swept away Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in arguably one of the most one-sided World Championships final in history.
Sindhu’s sheer dominance rattled the third seed Japanese, who seemed to be completely overwhelmed by the fifth seeded Indian.
That dominance befitted Sindhu, who became the first ever Indian to win gold at the World Championships. Even the legendary Prakash Padukone had fallen short, not to mention her peer Saina Nehwal, who has a bronze (20015) and silver (2017) at the world meet.
It was Saina who was one of the first to congratulate her compatriot. “Congratulations to @Pvsindhu1 for the first ever world championships gold medal from India,” she tweeted.
Asked what this win would mean to India, Sindhu said: “I won this for my country. I am proud to be an Indian.”
The 24-year-old added: “It was very special to see the Tricolour flying and to hear the national anthem. I was getting goosebumps.”
Celebrations, are, of course in order.
A gold medal at the World Championships had been evading Sindhu for some time now. She won the silver in 2017 and 2018. Earlier, she won two bronze medals in 2013 and 2014.
After winning the gold on Sunday, a visibly elated Sindhu said: “I lost last year in the final and the year before that. I am really very, very happy. I have waited for this victory, and finally I’ve become the world champion. I’ve no words to express my feelings because I was waiting for this.”
Thanking her coaches — South Korean Kim Ji Hyun and Pullela Gopichand — Sindhu said: “A lot of credit goes to my coaches — Gopi Sir and Kim, and also to my parents as well, my support staff and all my sponsors who believed in me.”
She then went on to dedicate the victory to her mother: “I dedicate this medal to my mother. It’s her birthday today. She will be tremendously happy. I wanted to give her something and now I can give her this.”
Back home, Vijaya was gushing, saying: “This was the best gift of my lifetime.”
Asked what was her game plan for the final, Sindhu said from Basel: “I was just focused on my game. I was not thinking of it as a final. I played like any other match — a semi-final or a quarters. ”
She added: “Usually, the Japanese girls play a lot of rallies. But I was able to dominate the long rallies. I maintained the lead and was able to finish it off.”
Asked whether she had Tokyo 2020 on her mind now, she said: “Of course. The qualifications are going on and I will want to do well. But today, I just want to enjoy and celebrate and not think of anything else.”
Sindhu’s former coach Vimal Kumar was ecstatic.
“It was a masterclass from Sindhu. She was simply brilliant. She gave Okuhara no chance.
“Sindhu was dominating in every department. She was moving well and her approach to the net was simply too powerful.”
Vimal felt that two tough matches en route to the final, specially the quarter final against Tai Tzu Ying, built up her confidence.
“The win over Tai Tzu in the quarters made a big difference to her psyche. In the semi-final, she just crushed China’s Chen Yufei. I have never seen Sindhu play this well.”