One day, ten months ago, Pullela Gopichand read out the riot act to PV Sindhu. He told her that unless she screams standing in the middle of the badminton court at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton academy in Hyderabad, with 50-odd shuttlers and coaches looking on, he would not let her touch the racquet.
“It was very tough for her because she is a soft person and not very aggressive,” said PV Ramana, Sindhu’s father, who was present when the incident happened. Ramana, who was a member of the bronze-winning Indian volleyball team at the 1986 Asian Games, understood the reason behind Gopi’s insistence.
“Gopi says Indian children grow up in a very protected environment because of which they do not express themselves enough, even when they are in a sports arena. Showing a temperament by screaming a bit and an aggressive body language also helps to intimidate the opponent. In sport, where domination is key, this aspect is important,” Ramana said.
Sindhu was driven to tears, but at the end of what seemed to her like an ordeal, she did scream, standing alone in the middle of the court. Off court, Gopichand is perhaps the most genteel person you will meet. It is his mind that is tough as steel. ‘Grit’ could well be his middle name.
“When I started out as a coach, there were many who dissuaded me saying the system will not let you succeed. But I feel it is important to keep pushing. I saw ourselves as world beaters and I wanted to prove the sceptics wrong,” Gopichand told me a year ago.
Resting on his laurels as a former All-England champion would have been the easier option for Gopi, but the desire to be part of world badminton, a space he calls “an exciting place to be in”, propelled him into the role of a coach. A self-taught guru, Gopichand is considered one of the most tactically astute minds in the game today. One who made Indian shuttlers, hitherto tourists on the badminton circuit, believe that the Great Wall of China, the badminton powerhouse, could be breached.
Sindhu’s victory in the women’s singles quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics on Tuesday, over Wang Yihan, the world number two and the silver medallist at the London Olympics, is the result of that “You can do it” mantra. Never-easy-to-please Gopi was in fact, happy with the 21-year-old’s work ethic against a better-ranked opponent.
De-briefing of this Story
You may be successful in your field but that does mean you should retire. Train others, be their mentor so that they can achieve more than you have ever achieved. With your experience, you can transform the life of others.
This Story can be used to share the importance of
2- Believing in others
From the Website – Firstpost.com