Hyderabad: A day in the life of P.V. Sindhu is a day of a superstar. The newly-minted Olympic silver-medallist was the toast of the town after her arrival in Hyderabad on Monday.
An open-top bus parade segued into a stunning state welcome for the lanky shuttler at the GMC Balayogi Athletics Stadium where nearly 30,000 schoolkids turned up to catch a glimpse of India’s newest sporting superstar.
The 21-year-old was given a rousing reception at the airport when she touched down around 9 am. Telangana minister for Information Technology and Civil Administration K.T. Rama Rao, who is also the head of the Telangana Badminton Association, led a delegation of union and state ministers, MLAs and other officials in welcoming her.
Sindhu was soon whisked away on an open-top bus, imported from Mumbai just for this occasion. The shuttler’s cavalcade was cheered on by thousands upon thousands of students and supporters who had lined up on the roads.
Sindhu, who looked dazed and delighted all at once by this unexpected outpouring of love and support from the city she calls home, was in for her biggest surprise yet. It has been known for a couple of days now that Sindhu would be accorded a state reception by the state government, but the sheer scale of the undertaking staggered the lanky lass.
Sindhu, riding alongside chief national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, drove into the GMC Balayogi Athletics Stadium where the sight of young kids packed into the stadium, cheering her on, left her overawed and speechless. She soon regained her composure, waving to her adoring little fans as she made a victory lap around the stadium, waving with a radiant smile plastered on her face.
She soon made her way to the dais, marching in time to a rousing tune struck up by the Hyderabad and Cyberabad police bands. The entire gallery of Telangana ministers — KTR, home minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy, Deputy Chief Minister Mohd Mahmood Ali, Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya as well as Hyderabad Mayor Bonthu Ram Mohan — stood up as one to applaud the shuttler on her way to the seat.
“I never expected so many people to turn up. to see the entire stadium packed to the rafters is an unbelievable sight. I’m thrilled to be standing in front of you,” Sindhu said, breaking into her trademark 1,000-watt smile.
“I’m really happy that two girls — Sindhu and Sakshi (Malik) —won medals and saved India from disgrace on the international stage,” said Gopichand.
The self-effacing KTR congratulated Sindhu and Gopi for their magnificent Olympic exploits, and said the government is doing everything within its power to ensure a gold medal in the 2020 Games or, at the very least, the 2024 Games.
However, it was Deputy Telangana CM Mahmood Ali who uttered the best line of the day when he opened his address with, “Jai Hind, Jai Sindhu!” to thunderous applause. India has a new queen of badminton, and she has come home to Hyderabad.