Rio De Janeiro, 14 July-2014, AP: Lionel Messi has received the award for best player…
Even before Pusarla Venkata Sindhu pumped up the excitement on Friday at Rio, her admirers staked claim to her: both in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The champion shuttler was their ‘ammayi’ (girl, in Telugu), both sides said.
Some asserted that she was born and brought up in Hyderabad and was a Telangana ‘bidda.’ The counter was that she belonged to Vijayawada and was therefore an Andhra ‘ammayi’. Many even researched the champion’s caste, as her parents had a love marriage.
A third group played safe, calling her a Telugu ‘Tejam.’ Chiding all ‘parochial’ factions were the nationalists who said Sindhu was an Indian.
The champion player’s parents, Mr. Ramana and Ms. Vijayalakshmi, meanwhile, made a quick 350-km trip to Eluru from Hyderabad to offer prayers at Ratnalamma temple on Friday.
In Hyderabad, the Gopi Chand Academy was full of fans keen to watch her battle Carolina Marin.
Ms. Vijayalakshmi said her girl is an Indian first. “Let us all enjoy this moment of triumph and look forward to a golden finish and not engage in a debate,” she said, as the family settled down to watch the final on a giant screen, accompanied by guests like Daggubati Purandeshwari and London Olympics bronze medallist Gagan Narang.
Sindhu was born in Secunderabad and lives in Marredpally. Her father is Sports Officer, South Central Railway.
Images of the player carrying the traditional Bonam at the recent Bonalu festival in Hyderabad strengthened her Telangana supporters’ claims. She should be the State’s brand ambassador, replacing Sania Mirza, some said on social media.
Mr. Ramana was born in Nirmal, Adilabad district in Telangana, and Ms. Vijayalakshmi, a volleyball player like her husband, is the daughter of a Vijayawada businessman.