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10 Dec, 2019
“India’s Nari Shakti epitomises talent and tenacity, determination and dedication. Our ethos has always taught us to strive for women empowerment. Through this video, @Pvsindhu1 … excellently convey(s) the message of celebrating #BharatKiLaxmi,” Indian PM Narendra Modi tweets on the eve of Diwali
“Some of the achievers in other sports like Mary Kom, PV Sindhu, Abhinav Bindra, Sania Mirza, Pullela Gopichand, Vishwanathan Anand and Bajrang Punia will be here,” BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, on the eve of the recently concluded Pink Test Match between India & Bangladesh.
“Sindhu remains India’s most marketable female athlete,” Forbes Magazine, in the issue that listed Sindhu as India’s top & only female athlete in the list of highest paid sportswomen in the world!
“Badminton star PV Sindhu co-pilots a Light Combat Aircraft during Aero India show,” Sportstar India’s leading Sports Magazine.
These are just some of the pieces of news over the few months that firmly establishes PV Sindhu as the de facto female superstar of Indian Sports; and more importantly singles her out as the truly first and only Indian female athlete to transcend her own sport and become a pan-India socio-economic-cultural icon who is no longer confined to the boundaries of the sport that propelled her into superstardom.
The Star & Adulation
Other than cricket, India has been a country starved of world-class sporting icons. Sure, there have been others such as Vishwanathan Anand, Abhinav Bindra, Sania Mirza, Mary Kom amongst others but either the appeal of the sport they played were too limited or they domination on the world stage too feeble to have reverberated over & above the din, often reserved for the cricketing feats.
In that sense, PV Sindhu is the first Indian female athlete to have well & truly risen above the glass-ceiling and has arrived as the first pan-India female sports icon and created a space for herself. She’s a rage on social media, loved by advertisers and an absolute box-office top draw wherever and whenever she plays.
“Sindhu is my inspiration, my role model and I love watching her play!” exclaims Ankita Kulkarni, a young badminton player from Karnataka, perfectly encapsulating the nation’s love for the World Champion. “I have had the huge honour of personally meeting her she is very friendly and down to earth person,” continues young Ankita, who also handles a fangirl page for the superstar on social media.
The Brand & Value
Whether it is a social cause, brand endorsement or even a gathering of the high & mighty – nothing in the country is complete without Sindhu’s presence. Be it a big Bollywood wedding, or the PMs pet social initiatives – Sindhu is everywhere and Sindhu is always there.
From fashion brands or fashion statements, Sindhu does it all and she does them all with absolute élan!
On court, 2019 hasn’t exactly been the most rewarding one for her, if you take her lofty standards as a measure. A win at the BWF World Championships, the first by any Indian – should easily make it the best year of anyone’s career, but such are the expectations of Sindhu from her ardent fans. And yet, the lack of silverware from the HSBC BWF Superseries circuit hasn’t dented any of her fan following, brand value or pan-India popularity.
At the recently concluded PBL Season 5 Auction, Sindhu was readily retained by her home-franchise the Hyderabad Hunters for a whopping ₹77 Lakhs – the joint-highest purse for any player in the league.
Outlining their decision to keep Sindhu in their ranks Hyderabad Hunters CEO Shyam Gopu said, “Along with on court performance, Sindhu also brings in the ‘soar-high-never-give-up’ attitude alongside huge marketability factor to the table which are very important for any franchise team to do well. We are extremely happy to have her in our team for PBL Season 5”
The Legacy & Beyond!
At 24, PV Sindhu is at the peak of her prowess and the next 12-18 months could well put her beyond the reach of any female athlete for the forceable future. A chance to defend her World Tour Championships as well as the World Badminton Championships in 2021, and of course the small matter of trying to improve on her Olympics Silver Medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. That Sindhu is a big tournament player is not lost on anyone - a Gold, two silvers and two bronze medals at World Championships and the Silver at the Olympics – all indicate that she brings in her big game for the big occasions.
“Over the years whenever there has been a big tournament & big occasion, Sindhu has always put in the big performances. This is due to all the meticulous preparation that is done leading up to the tournaments.”, says Chief Coach of the Indian Badminton Team Pullela Gopichand lauding her big match & big tournament temperament.
Also, the ideal court & drift conditions allow the big players to perform at their very best, which may not always be the case with smaller tour tournaments, adds the coach.
If Sindhu were to pull off favourable results in each of these big finales of the next year and half, it must be safe to assume that she will have cemented, her already coveted place, in the pantheon of Indian sporting legends. Actually scratch that, if she can pull off the Olympic Gold and successfully defend her World Championship title that will put her into a space of her own.
Beyond sport, art, and even success. She could well be India’s first and only female cross-cultural legend for the ages, and right now she’s just about getting there, even before hitting 25!