It was a tough day for PV Sindhu although she had not played a game of badminton in the last 24 hours. Rather she had flown from one city to another, attended quite a few events and now she was back to chatting with the press again at a promotional event.
Her father PV Ramana waited outside the room where the interviews were going on. One reporter after the other went inside and Sindhu answered all the questions. Ramana, on the other hand, was trying to keep his anxiousness away by chatting with some of the journalists outside. He was a little restless as they had a flight to catch and were supposed to have left by then. But Sindhu did not say no the press committments. She gave all the answers.
Sitting outside, her father was sometimes on whatsapp and sometimes chatting with us, trying his best to shoo away the anxiousness. Every minute matters in a life of an athlete and he reminded the journalists waiting outside it, of course, in a very subtle way. He said. “As soon as she (Sindhu) reaches home, she will be off to bed. Resting is very important.” He was quick to add that had there been such importance given to resting in his playing days, he would have played many more volleyball nationals. He did went on to play 20 nationals anyway.
There was one more interview left and father went inside the room to have a word. The daughter came outside with him and they chatted in their mother tongue. Sindhu looked stressed and what appeared from Ramana’s body language, they were actually running late. Her father ran for, what I suppose, was the luggage. He told her not to worry and he will take care.
Sindhu instantly smiled again and went back to another room where a TV interview was waiting for her. She did that, came back and walked away quickly.
Being an athlete is different than being a star athlete in the country. It is not like being film star where you need such interviews to keep yourself in media. For players like Sindhu, the titles and medals they win are the biggest PR. However, the promotional events they do for others do take a lot on the body. Ramana was telling us outside the room that she has been constantly flying. It’s not just the game that keeps you busy as a star athlete but also the off-field committments and they kind of put more stress on the body than the matches themselves.
There are many things that Ramana spoke of, which was off the record. The topics ranged from her routine, food habits to how she never tells them about the injury problems.
When I asked Sakshi Malik’s manager, who was also at the event, for a video interview with the Rio Olympics 2016 bronze medalist, she said, “She is really stressed for Commonwealth Games 2018 coming up in April. We cannot do it before that.”
I could relate with that stress when a random guy came running where the interviews were happening with a T-shirt in his hand. “Is Sakshi there?” But she had left by then. He said, “I have her garment with me. She forgot taking it with her.”
Don’t know how many things these athletes lost and forgot for that one medal, for that one moment.