I am stronger than I was at Rio: Sindhu

World champion P.V. Sindhu, who is gearing up for the Tokyo Games, feels she is an improved version of the player who claimed India’s first badminton silver at the Olympics.

“I am mentally and physically much stronger compared to the 2016 Rio Olympics where I won a silver,” she told The Hindu. “I have been working a lot on my physical fitness and the mental aspects, improving my skills and technique.”

The 26-year-old also said she was more mature and experienced. “The first objective will be to cut down unforced errors, consistency is very important. You will be watching new weapons for sure,” she said.

“Training at the Gachibowli Indoor Stadium has definitely helped a lot. [Better to] learn here and understand the court and shuttle control to be ready for the Olympics rather than take time to do the same in Tokyo in similar conditions,” said Sindhu, explaining her move to the indoor stadium this February.

Asked about her coach Park Tae Sang, she said, “Every coach has a different mindset … Park Tae Sang has been really good. He is supportive and motivating, we gel well.”

Sindhu said the “biggest challenge in Tokyo” would be to stay “safe”. “Getting tested every day, not meeting anyone is a different proposition altogether,” she added.

Won’t be easy

“Even though defending champion [Carolina] Marin is missing the Games because of an injury, that doesn’t mean it is going to be easy. There are quite a few others who are equally good.

“I don’t look at myself as the strongest contender for gold. Every player will be better prepared, with new techniques and strategies. We should be prepared for this,” Sindhu said.

“This is the first time we spent a lot of time in training, improving strokes, which was not the case earlier because of a hectic tournament schedule. Here, I must thank the Union Sports Ministry, Sports Authority of India, Badminton Association of India, the Telangana government and Suchitra Academy for ensuring I got all that I wanted,” she said.

“Finally, I must say that I will miss the fans in Tokyo. But I hope they continue to support me and show their love. All I can say is that I will give my best and hope to be back with gold,” Sindhu concluded.

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