Ace shuttler P V Sindhu, who created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics, on Tuesday spent a memorable day in her ancestral city Vijayawada as she was accorded a warm civic reception and felicitated by the Andhra Pradesh government.
21-year-old Sindhu turned nostalgic as she recalled the first steps she took as a badminton player in this city, admiring the likes of Pullela Gopichand who eventually became her coach and mentor, propelling her to Olympic glory.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu felicitated Sindhu, Gopichand and announced gifting of a 15-acre site in the proposed Sports City in the state’s new capital region Amaravati for setting up a badminton academy.
Naidu regaled the huge crowd, comprising mostly students, by playing some badminton with Sindhu on the dais at the start of the event.
Top percussionist Sivamani too enthralled the audience with his drum beats minutes before Sindhu arrived at the venue.
As the Telangana government sought to “own” Sindhu as the “daughter of our soil”, Naidu and his government took pains to proclaim that the champion indeed belonged to Andhra Pradesh.
“Her father is from Eluru and mother from Vijayawada. Both were volleyball players and credit goes to them for encouraging and nurturing Sindhu to become what she is today,” he said, repeatedly referring to her as “mana ammai” (our daughter).
He congratulated Sindhu’s parents P V Ramana and Vijaya for encouraging her all the way to Olympic glory.
On her part, while thanking the state government for the honour, Sindhu recalled her visits to the city as a child.
“I used to come to Vijayawada to my grandfather’s house and play shuttle at the indoor stadium here,” she said.
“Thanks to your blessings and prayers, I have come this far. My parents and coach encouraged me very well. As a kid I used to watch Gopi sir (Gopichand) play and got inspired,” Sindhu said.
Calling Sindhu “a diamond” who has rewritten the history of Indian sports, Naidu promised to nurture her further.
He also dreamed of hosting Olympics in the future in Amaravati.