The ESPN India Awards for 2018 has been announced and Sportsperson of the Year (Female) title goes to the country’s top woman Badminton player — PV Sindhu, ESPN reported. In August 2016, Sindhu grabbed the spotlight when she went on to win an Olympic silver medal for India. Also worth mentioning is shuttler Saina Nehwal winning the Comeback of the Year award.

What worked for Sindhu?

Sindhu has only a single semifinal to show for her efforts for this year. All of her recent games were flawed like the World Championships and World Tour Finals, yet she is in the front. Her form is going low but the ace is still practicing hard and waiting for her momentum.

Former national coach Vimal Kumar thinks, “She’s going through a bit of a bad patch just now but she’s always managed to find a way to peak when she really needs to.”

Saina claimed her second successive Badminton Nationals and fourth overall (2006, 2007, 2018, 2019) Nationals title this year. Sindhu had won it in 2011 and 2013.

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Overall, Sindhu’s latest achievement was to secure World no. 2 spot, as per the latest BWF rankings. Last year, Sindhu successfully made it to the Forbes List Of 30 Under 30 Asia 2018. She is enlisted among a total of four Indians included in the list’s ‘Entertainment & Sports’ category. India’s ace badminton player is also enlisted in the Forbes list of highest-earning female athletes. She is a role model to many and her words impact youngsters but slipping off her form lately.

Back in 2013, she bested at a GP gold-level tournament before her first Worlds’ bronze. She suffered four first-round losses on the Superseries circuit before her 2014 bronze. The run-up to the 2016 Olympic silver had fifteen exits before the quarterfinals. Before her first World Championships silver in 2017, she had six quarterfinal exits.

Although, in 2018, she reached the finals of the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the World Championships. She went all the way at the World Tour Finals. Additionally, Sindhu also had two other finals at the World Tour 500 level as well as semifinal finishes at the All England Open and at the Malaysian Open. Even though no big win so far but the year was remarkable for her consistency.

“2018 will be special for Sindhu because she was just very very consistent,” says Kumar. “She’s just been able to play at a high level for a lot longer than she might have been used to in the past. And that’s impacted her results,” he says.

“Someone like Sindhu is fascinating because there is still so much room for her to improve,” he added.

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Saina’s Powerstroke

The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina, on the other hand, is unrivalled after her surgery. At the Asian Games last year, she became the first Indian singles player since Syed Modi’s bronze in 1982, to win a medal. She is beating and bettering Sindhu consistently as a steady, experienced player.

“It’s not easy to come out of what she did. For many players, that may have well been the end of the road. So you have to appreciate her resolve to persist and get in some good results. She’s a good example for the younger lot of how to deal with adversity and even though I might not agree with a lot of things she does, she deserves full credit for the way she hung in and continued to fight,” Vimal expressed.

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