Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu on being an inspiration for young girls in India

The Indian badminton player talks to Team Cosmo about gearing up for the upcoming Olympic Games, what keeps her going, and how she relaxes off-court.

Two-time Olympic medallist PV Sindhu on being an inspiration for young girls in India

PV Sindhu is ‘Pretty Groundbreaking’. In this interview, the shuttle queen shares with us what makes her #MoreThanPretty 
Cosmo: How old were you when you decided that badminton is a sport you want to pursue as a career?

PV Sindhu: When I started [playing badminton] at the age of eight and a half, it was more of fun—you know there was a badminton court near where my parents played volleyball [her father PV Ramana was a professional volleyball player while her mother, P Vijaya was a national-level volleyball player], so, I would just go there and play for fun. In time, I started liking it and so, I continued. That's how I started playing badminton—I later took it up as a sport and never looked back.
C: Team Cosmo thinks you're truly groundbreaking. What does breaking ground as a sports star mean to you?

PV: I feel happy about it; it is such a great feeling when a lot of people are inspired, motivated and want to start playing sports. Everybody wants to see themselves being at the top, so I am very grateful. But, it isn’t easy, but hard work pays off. 

C: Tell us what makes you 'More Than Pretty'.

PV: I think being yourself is being more than pretty. You be you, be yourself, and love what you do, because the passion itself shows how happy you are. When you follow what you want and you follow your passion, it shows on your face and it gives you that glow.    
C: Being mentored by Prakash Padukone [former Indian badminton player] must feel incredible. Tell us what your experience training with him has been like.

PV: It’s an amazing feeling. He’s such a gentleman, such a legend…I mean, what else or rather who else would I need? Sir [Prakash Padukone] has been so kind as my mentor. I have been training under him for a couple of months now, and I was there [at the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru]. The atmosphere itself is really good. And, he is a legend, so what else can I say about him except that I'm lucky to have him as my mentor?
C: Your social media is a dead giveaway that you love animals. What would your spirit animal be?

PV: I really love animals. I have a pet at home [a labrador named Rio] and I miss him especially when I travel for tournaments or when I’m at Bengaluru for training. In fact, as soon as I’m back home, he runs up to me and jumps on me—it is such a nice feeling; I forget everything and just end up spending time with him. So, yes, my spirit animal would, maybe, be a dog (laughs).
C: You are the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals. Do you have a checklist of Olympic wins and titles that you want to garner over the course of your impressive career?

PV: I am extremely happy that I won two Olympic medals. Of course, I'm hoping for another one—that's Paris 2024 [Summer Olympics]. And I would want to win a lot more titles. I don't say it's easy. But, at the same time, it's not hard as well. Of course, this is only the start and there's a long way to go. But I feel, when you win a tournament or when you win titles, that gives you a lot of confidence and it takes you to another level.

C: How thrilled are you about the upcoming Olympics?

PV: I'm very thrilled—it will be my third Olympics and it is a different experience altogether. The first one [Rio Olympics 2016] was different as it was my first time. Later, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, there were a lot of expectations and a lot of pressure. But, the third one is a mix of a lot of things. I'm more experienced; I know how it is, what it is like, and how the atmosphere will be, so I will be much smarter compared to the last ones.
C: You’re a huge inspiration for young girls in India who want to pursue a career in badminton. Who was your role model growing up?

PV: It makes me very happy when people say that I am an inspiration for many young girls in India. It is nice to see that a number of girls take up the sport after seeing me and taking me as an inspiration.

I have seen a lot of my seniors playing, and as far as role models go, I really love Lin Dan [Chinese former professional badminton player and two-time Olympic champion] when he plays badminton; he's a legend and I love his game. Also, my parents were volleyball players so sport is in my genes. I've seen their matches and also seen my father playing, and, I think when you see your parents play sport and achieve something while you’re growing up, you automatically get that feeling and you’d also want to do the same.
C: How do you cope with failure and what keeps you going every day?

PV: Failure is something we need to accept, but, at the same time, we need to understand that it is not permanent. Failures keep happening, but it is important that you bounce back stronger. I know it is not easy and it’s not going to be easy—you might take a couple of hours, a day or two, but it is not the end of the world. It is important you understand that there's a lot more ahead of you and make sure that you don't repeat that mistake again. And, of course, believe in yourself—that is what I do every day. Sometimes, even during practice sessions, things might not go your way, but it is important that you understand that such things happen and you can't give your hundred per cent every single day. However, you need to accept it all while you keep moving forward and keep getting stronger.

C: What are the cornerstones of a world-class champion according to you?

PV: As every sportsperson says, you need to be dedicated and disciplined; you need to keep working hard, and have self-belief as well as hope. Of course, all that is important, but what’s even more important is that you enjoy what you do. Don’t just do something without interest or for the sake of it; it won’t help you. While you need to understand that it is going to be difficult, you also have to enjoy that. If you want to be at the top of the world, you need to work much harder. So just understand that and keep moving forward. Of course, on some days it's going to be really hard. It’s important to take breaks and, at the same time, be mentally and physically fit. At times, you won't feel like doing it but that’s when it is important that you are at 100 per cent mentally.
C:  What does an off-duty day PV Sindhu's life look like?

PV: On my rest days, I am at home spending time with my family and my dog. Most of the time, I have shoots and other such things, and I make sure I don't put those on my training days so as to not disturb my training sessions. Otherwise, if I have a complete off, I go for a massage and make sure that I don't have any niggles and pains because recovery is very important for your body. I would say that your body is like a temple; you have to take care of it. On an off-duty day, I just take the time to recover, relax, meditate, and chill.

Look courtesy: Mango India @mango @mangostores_india.

Shoot talent: Photographer: Anubhav Sood; Stylist: Gopalika Virmani; Assistant Stylist: Riza Rizvi; HMU: Chriselle Baptista