However successful India’s singles stars, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, may’ve been over the better part of the last decade or so, the fact is that no Indian woman has till date won the singles gold at the Asian Games.
The 18th Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang could very well change that around, thanks to Sindhu’s rich form leading up to the event. She may’ve lost the World Championships final to Carolina Marin in straight games, but that doesn’t take anything away from the fact that she had a hugely impressive week in China, one in which she hadn’t dropped a game till the final.
The wins came against Asia’s best players – Sung Ji Hyun (Korea) in the pre-quarters, Nozomi Okuhara (Japan) in the quarters, and Akane Yamaguchi (Japan) in the semis. “There are a lot of positives take from the tournament and that’s what I want Sindhu to focus on,” coach Pullela Gopichand said after the final.
The Rio Olympics silver medalist has said the time to prepare for the Asian Games hasn’t been enough, but is hopeful about India’s players doing better than last time. In Incheon, India managed to win just the one bronze from the women’s team event. ‘It’s going to be very different because we have team events and also the individuals, but this time we expect to do better than last time,” Sindhu said.
The tournament will truly offer the world’s best competition in women’s badminton. Gone are the days when China was the only contingent that gave the other teams a headache. There is one young Chinese though who could trouble Sindhu and co. 21 year old He Bingjao maybe ranked 13th in the world at the moment, but has an envious 6-5 record against the second ranked Sindhu. Bingjiao beat the Indian as recently as the Indonesia Open in June.
At the 2014 edition, China walked away with the gold and silver in women’s singles, but there’s little doubt that it could be very different this time around. India last won an Asian Games singles medal 36 years ago when Syed Modi won bronze, when the likes of Sindhu and Saina weren’t even born.
The badminton events begin from the 19th of August with the preliminary rounds of the men’s and women’s team events, while the individual events begin from the 23rd of August.