If there is one sport that is really making waves in this country of late it has to be badminton. Interest in the game is at an all time high and there is no need for a rocket scientist to go into a deep analysis as to why this is so. First there were the exploits of PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal that attracted considerable attention worldwide. And perhaps inspired by the two women it was the turn of the men to make their presence felt around the international circuit in no uncertain terms. At the recent world championship for example Sai Praneeth made it to the semifinals making him the first Indian to win a bronze medal since Prakash Padukone in 1983.

All this has meant that this is the best phase in the history of Indian badminton with encouraging signs of even better things to come. Badminton is now a hot property among sports in India. There is considerable discussion about badminton round the cocktail circuit and the sudden interest has also resulted in the top players emerging as marketable brands when it comes to ads and endorsements.

With all the growing number of Indian badminton players who are performing admirably on the international stage there is little doubt that Sindhu remains the superstar of the sport in this country. Ever since she won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 – her final against Carolina Marin set TV audience records as the most watched non- cricketing event in this country - Sindhu has been feted like few Indian sportspersons before her and deservedly so. Fortunately she has not let success go to her head and has been able to maintain her challenge at the international level. Her rising stature was confirmed by her winning the world title at Basel, Switzerland, something she wanted badly after faltering in the final in 2017 and 2018. In addition she had won the bronze medal in 2013 and 2014. Her tally of five medals makes her the joint highest medal winner in women’s singles in world championship history. Former Olympic champion Zhang Ning of China also won an identical one gold, two silver and two bronze medals between 2001 and 2007.

With a 21 – 7, 21 – 7 demolition of Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara Sindhu became India’s first badminton world champion with the victory boosting the nation’s hopes of an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo next year. It was a case of third time lucky for Sindhu who had lost to Okuhara and Carolina Marin respectively in the 2017 and 2018 finals.

It was a most welcome triumph for besides the world championship Sindhu had played in five other finals last year without winning any of them raising questions about her mental strength. Dubbed ''silver girl’’ for a string of near misses on the international stage, Sindhu finally shed that unwanted tag last month. After all besides finishing runner-up at the 2016 Olympics she also finished second best in last year’s Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and the previous two world championship finals and as such she was delighted to stand on the top of the podium in Basel.

Sindhu has no intention of resting on her laurels. As she said in an interview soon after winning the title ''One goal is achieved and the next one is there – the Olympics. I will really work hard and will prepare to win that one also by doing well in the Super Series competitions in the run-up to the Tokyo Games next year.’’

Away from the court too Sindhu has struck gold. She was tied for 13th place in Forbes’ list of highest paid female athletes over the last year with 5.5 million dollars. Sports marketing firm Baseline Ventures which manages Sindhu said the athlete currently endorses 14 brands and her off court earning trail only Virat Kohli among the country’s sporting elite.