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PV Sindhu recently got herself a pet – Rio, she calls the poodle and it’s not difficult to guess why she choose the moniker. After all, it’s not the first time that we’ve seen sportspersons name someone they love after places where they’ve delivered that special performance to put them into the annals of history. A certain Brian Charles Lara, choose to name his daughter Sydney, following his majestic 277 against the mighty Australian attack, but then I digress.

Coming back to Sindhu, back in August 2016, PV Sindhu was still a protégé and while she did have demonstrate the promise, I’d be surprised if anyone outside of her immediate circle had been sure of a medal in the Brazilian capital. Close to five years since that afternoon when she lost the yellow medal but won a billion hearts for posterity, Sindhu has come a long way.

Instant stardom was sure to follow, and it did. But she’s continued to deliver on the big stage consistently that she now carries the hopes and aspirations of a billion plus Indians as she heads into her second Olympics. And from the looks of it, neither she nor her legion of fans seem to be gunning for anything other than the elusive gold. Will the burden of expectations prove too much for her, or will she continue to defy the odds and deliver on the big stage – something she’s made a habit of, for the duration of her career so far.

Although no one has a definite answer, but how does an additional year waiting for the Olympics turn out for her? Has it robbed her of the opportunity to mount a challenge at a year younger than she is now, or has it allowed her the opportunity to prepare better and thereby help her perform better? Last year she’d sure have had the prospect of squaring off against the reigning Olympic champion – Carolina Marin, at the peak of her prowess. And yet this year, the unfortunate absence of the defending champion, surely improves Sindhu’s odds, or do they really?

Sure, the group stage draw shouldn’t cause a lot of concerns for the shuttler from Hyderabad but her quest for glory would require her to conquer the likes of Akkane Yamaguchi, Tai Tzu Ying, and Chen Yufei – should the draw pan out as it is expected to! That’s three of the topmost women’s singles players on the circuit right now, taking all of them down will be no mean feat, and if she does surely that person deserves the Olympic gold.

And while it is futile to be crystal-ball gazing at this juncture, surely a billion plus Indians will be hoping and praying that the lanky girl who rode into the nation’s consciousness with a silver medal, will now be able to better her returns with a gold in Tokyo.