Tokyo, August 2: Reigning world champion P V Sindhu on Monday (August 2) said she was completely blank after winning a second successive Olympic medal and it took her a while to realise the enormity of her historic achievement in the ongoing Games.
The 26-year-old Indian on Sunday (August 1) etched her name among the all-time greats after winning badminton's women's singles bronze medal to add to the silver she won at Rio de Janeiro five years back. She became the first Indian woman and second overall from the country to achieve the feat.
"...I was blank, my coach was literally in tears, it was a big moment. I hugged him and said 'Thank you'. I didn't know what to do for 5-6 seconds, I shouted, so all emotions came together at that moment," she said during a virtual press conference.
In the third-place play-off, Sindhu beat China's He Bing Jiao. The win came after a painful loss in the semifinals to world no 1 Tai Tzu Ying.
Sindhu said coach Park Tae-sang's encouragement helped her to recover from the semifinal loss and claim the bronze for the country.
"After semis, I was really sad, I was in tears but my coach said it is not over yet. There were mixed emotions, if I should be sad or happy but Park told one thing. He said 'there is a lot of difference between a fourth position and a bronze' and that really hit me," she said.
"I went with the mindset that I have to give my 100 percent and get that medal."
A lot of questions were raised when Sindhu decided to move out of the Pullela Gopichand Academy and train at the Gachibowli indoor stadium which had bigger halls similar to the venue here.
Sindhu said it was one of the best decisions, especially since drift played a role during the Games at the Musashino Forest Plaza here.
"Yeah, from the beginning there was no controversy, I mean, we had this opportunity to play in conditions similar to Olympics, so from February we have been playing there, it has really helped us because drift played a big role and I learnt a lot in Gachibowli, I learnt to control the shuttle better.
"It had international standard courts with air conditioners, which was important. So I feel it was the best decision...We also got used to different players from Suchitra academy also. It was important.
"Badminton Association of India and Sports Authority of India have also been very supportive always."
Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu has revealed that Sindhu's words of encouragement after the medal ceremony had left her in tears after she went down in the Olympics women's singles final.
Asked about the gesture, Sindhu said: "At the end of the day, when you play sports, you are opponents and you don't have that mercy but when the match is over you come back to normal friendship and that's what matters at the end of the day.
"It takes couple of seconds or minutes to say 'hard luck' or just communicate and talk. That kind of communication is very important between sportspersons.
"When you lose and you see someone lose, you know how much it hurts, you understand the feeling. When Tai Tzu lost, I knew that she was sad, so I said it was not her day and enjoy the day. It was a small kind of talk with her and a hug."
In the last five years, Sindhu has worked with three different foreign coaches including Indonesia's Mulyo Handoyo, Korea's Kim Ji Hyun and Park.
"I learnt a lot from each coach. It is good to learn new skills and utilise them whenever needed. They all were different, with different mindsets. I'm happy I have with me the knowledge that they taught me."
Sindhu also said she will want to continue training under Park, who was initially hired to train the men's singles players but started working with Sindhu after the abrupt departure of Kim Ji Hyun.
"I have known him for a long time when he was training with the Korean team...initially it took us time to get to know each other, about the conditions but there was this dream to get an Olympic medal so we worked really hard.
"Especially in this pandemic lot of people suffered, he couldn't go home, he just went home for 13 days. So it is all his hard work and we finally got this medal back to the country.
"Park has been my coach for about a year and a half, so yeah, I would love to continue with him as my coach."
Asked about her plans for the 2024 Paris Olympics, Sindhu laughed and said: "There is still time for Paris, let me just cherish the moment, I will give my best and give my percent."