Many years back,guests at the home of PV Ramana in Hyderabad would often ask to see the Indian volleyball captains Arjuna award. Ramanas daughter Sindhu didnt understand why visitors were so eager to see the old statue.
At that time Sindhu was little so when I explained what the award was,she would say she would get one as well, says Ramana.
And while Ramana smiled and indulgently supported his daughters assertion all those years back,with Sindhu receiving her own bronze statuette on Tuesday,guests can now chose between two awards to look at.
Sindhu was meant to get her award on August 31 from President Pranab Mukhejee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan but due to her commitments in the Indian Badminton League,received her award from Sports Minister Jitendra Singh at a low-key ceremony in the capital on Tuesday.
She may have been dressed in the maroon Arjuna Award blazer that appeared a size too big for her but Sindhu beamed throughout the short ceremony and for much afterwords.
2013 has been a great year for me, she said. I knew that I would do well but if at the start you had told me that I would win a World Championship medal,break into the top-ten and get the Arjuna Award,I wouldnt have expected it, said Sindhu while thanking her family and coach Gopichand.
For all her achievements and possibly because of them,the 18-year-old has had to deal with higher expectations. After wins against top Chinese players,losses to lower ranked players something that would earlier have been written off as simply a bad day will now be dissected in detail.
Her most recent loss to 16-year-old qualifier Akane Yamaguchi in the Japan Open was one such incident. Sindhu though isnt pushing the panic mode just yet. I wouldnt say that I have a habit of losing to lower ranked players. Yamaguchi may have been a very low ranked player but she had a bronze medal at the junior world championships and she went on to win the Japan Open, she says.
But Sindhu isnt taking the losses lightly either.
It isnt just the case of having a bad day. In many cases,my defeat came because I made a lot of errors. In the junior game,most points would end after two or three shots in the rally. So I generally finished the points off quickly. In the senior category,the other players stay in the rally for a lot longer. As the rally increases,even the chance of my making an error increases. It is a problem that I am trying to rectify with the help of Gopichand sir, she says.
Sindhu also acknowledges that the old narrative of players from China being seen as the benchmark for talent wont always hold true.
It is a good feeling to beat the top ranked players from China but the new players from Thailand and Japan dont give any easy matches either. A lot of the senior players tend to be a little cautious the first time I play against them, Sindhu says.
They may not have played me before and they are conscious about the fact that they are ranked higher than me. On the other hand the newer players have played a lot with me in the junior category and so my game isnt really a surprise to them. And because all of us are just starting out,we play with nothing to lose, says Sindhu who rates Inthanon Ratchanok and Spains Carolina Marin who beat her in the IBL last month,as two of her toughest opponents amongst the new comers.
And while she may have fallen down the rankings to 12th after her defeat to Yamaguchi,Sindhu is confident of climbing back into the top 10.
I am confident of getting back to the top 10 by the end of the year but the number one rank is a long way away. It is far easier to break into the top ten than to be ranked number one, Sindhu adds.
The Arjuna award is a wonderful recognition for whatever I have achieved but it also means that now there will be a lot more expectations on me in the future, she says.