The pressure of expectations had been doing strange things to the finest of sportspersons - ask Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka. P.V. Sindhu, Indian badminton superstar who has a lot riding on her shoulders, is fully aware of that, and worked out her own recipe to stay calm as she is being looked upon as a certain medal hope after reaching the women’s singles quarter finals in Tokyo Olympics on Thursday.
Brushing off Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 in just 41 minutes on Thursday, Sindhu revealed that she had been resorting to meditation to cut the noise out. “I meditate at times, so I think that keeps my mind calm and keeps me going,” said the 26-year-old world champion, who is being pursued by the media in Tokyo as never before.
“We see a lot of things happening on social media everywhere. Sometimes to let go of everything I just meditate for a bit.”
The question of mental health came up in a post-match media interaction, but Sindhu was diplomatic enough to steer clear of the issue.
Sindhu said she was “nobody to comment” on what others are going through, but explained how she navigates the expectations of the world’s second-most populous country. “It’s always there - the pressure, the responsibility,” she said.
“I’m sure a lot of people are expecting a lot, but for me, when I go out onto the court I just have to give my best. I shouldn’t think about what people are thinking - If I think about that, that would add extra pressure.”
“I’m not thinking about playing in the final,” said Sindhu. “The important thing is what is tomorrow. I’m just focusing on that. Yes, I got a medal at the last Olympics, but this is a fresh start.”
Satish Kumar stays in race; Mary Kom out
It had been a mixed day for Indian boxers as Satish Kumar advanced to the quarter finals with a comprehensive win against Ricardo Brown of Jamaica in the men’s super-heavyweight round of 16 bout. However, ageless warrior MC Mary Kom’s campaign came to an end later as the veteran crashed out in the pre-quarter finals by the narrowest of margins against Colombias Ingrit Lorena Valencia Victoria. It was a split verdict 3:2 in favour of the Colombian.
Kumar, the 32 year old from Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh, who is making his Olympics debut, won the +91kg bout by a 4:1 split verdict at the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena. Four of the five judges scored the bout in favour of the Indian boxer. It was a good win for the Indian who next faces reigning world champion Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Mary Kom, who had beaten the Colombian opponent in the quarter-finals of the World Championships 5:0 in 2019, lost the first round as Ingrit was quick to take advantage. The Colombian 32-year-old, who won bronze at the Rio Olympic Games, took 10 points each from four of the five judges unlike the Indian 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, who could earn 10 from only one judge.
Earlier this week, Mary Kom had defeated Dominican Republic’s Miguelina Hernandez Garcia 4-1 in the first round to raise hopes of a last hurrah.
Redemption for Atanu Das
Dropped from the mixed team competition after a below-par performance in the ranking round, Indian archer Atanu Das came up with a brilliant performance, holding his nerves under pressure to stun South Korea’s 2012 gold medallist Oh Jinhyek to reach the pre-quarterfinal stage in men’s individual archery.
Das shot a 10 in the single arrow shoot-out after Jinhyek could manage only nine in an attempt to seal a memorable victory in a second-round match.
Pravin Jadhav had replaced Das to partner Deepika Kumari in the mixed team as he had not done well in the ranking round on July 23, finishing second behind Jadhav.
However, the 29-year-old from West Bengal xame up with a brilliant performance, one of his best performances ever, as he shot superbly under pressure to tie the Korean 5-5 on set points after five rounds at the Yumenoshima Final Field.
Earlier, Das had reached the second round after beating Deng Yu-Cheng of Chinese Taipei 6-4 in five sets.