ONE came from a poor family. The other had to sacrifice comfort for the sake of badminton.
For both the 18-year-olds, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and P.V. Sindhu of India, hardship has taken them far in their badminton career and it was evident at the recent World Championships when they shone the brightest.
Ratchanok stunned Olympic champion Li Xuerui of China in her own den to become the youngest player in the singles event of the series to win the world title while Sindhu took an instant hit in China after dumping defending champion Wang Yihan and former champion Wang Shixian.
The three-time world junior champion Ratchanok, who hails from a poverty stricken family, was penniless when she picked up the sport but after reaching the All-England final for the first time this year, her fortunes changed.
“I bought my parents their first car. They are now no longer labourers but are managing a school badminton hall,” said the soft-spoken Ratchanok.
Sindhu had travelled 46km – one way – every day for almost four years in order to train at P. Gopichand’s Academy.
“My parents dropped me off every day. Sometimes, it was so tiring but I knew that these were the sacrifices that I had to make. My family eventually moved closer to my training place, but now, they travel the same distance to their work place. It is all about sacrifice,” said Sindhu.
Both Ratchanok and Sindhu are perfect role models for many Malaysian shuttlers, who have been enjoying a comfortable life. Even the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) juniors gets a daily allowance and enjoy the facilities.
Indonesia’s high performance director Rexy Mainaky said that hardship makes players stronger and increases their desire for more.
“Many badminton players are pampered and live a very comfortable life. It is not wrong to enjoy a comfortable life but, sometimes, they need to experience suffering so that they will not take anything for granted,” said Rexy.