In her quest for a third consecutive Olympic medal, PV Sindhu has now enlisted Indian badminton great Prakash Padukone as her mentor. While the Hyderabadi has been visiting the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy (PPBA) in Bengaluru on and off since the end of August, as reported earlier by this newspaper, the two-time Olympic medallist made the information public on Saturday.
“For those wondering and constantly asking me, the cat is finally out of the bag! Prakash sir is assuming the role of the mentor in my setup. I started training with him at the end of August, and it’s been uphill ever since. He’s more than a mentor; he’s my guide, my guru, and, above all, a true friend,” Sindhu tweeted.
“I wholeheartedly believe he possesses the magic to bring out the absolute best from my game. I am so grateful he reached out to me with one call when I was in Japan, and we’ve built on that connection exceptionally well. Dear sir, I am pumped! Looking forward to training with you! Let’s get to work.”
Sindhu is looking to turn around what has been the worst season of her career. After returning to the circuit in January following a six-month injury break, the 28-year-old has not been able to reach the top echelons of her sport that defined her career.
Barring the Spain Masters in April where Sindhu reached the final, the former world champion has mostly exited tournaments in the first couple of rounds that saw her drop out of the top 10 in world rankings for the first time since 2016.
In her quest to the rise to the top, she parted ways with Korean Park Tae-sang, hired former All England champion Muhammad Hafiz Hashim as her coach before beginning her trips to Bengaluru.
Sindhu’s move is reminiscent of former world No.1 Saina Nehwal’s shift of base from Hyderabad to Bengaluru in 2014. It was under PPBA head coach Vimal Kumar that Saina achieved world No.1 status, reached the All England Open final and became the first Indian to reach the World Championships final — all in 2015.
“Change of coaches will help if you feel something is not working under some coach. Change of atmosphere also helps sometimes. You need to try it out. What I felt at that point of time was that at the end of my career I should not feel bad that I didn’t try something new. I should not have that regret,” Saina had told HT in September.
“I tried it and reached world No.1 and the World Championships final after playing five quarter-finals. Somewhere my mind stopped thinking if I can ever cross quarter-finals. But I did it after the change. It is required for a player. And why not? It is your career. After all, it is you who will sit and think what I have achieved in my career. So changes are always good if they help.”
The change is already reflecting in Sindhu’s performances of late. Though still far from her best, the reigning Commonwealth Games champion’s results have improved in the last couple of months.
The five-time World Championships medallist reached the quarter-finals at the Asian Games, the semi-finals of both the Arctic Open and Denmark Open. After dropping to No.17 in the rankings – first time since 2015 – Sindhu has made her way back to world No.11.