New Delhi, August 19
PV Sindhu has won India’s second medal of the 2016 Rio Olympics, but it isn’t the one she, her coach P Gopichand and all those who tuned into the gold medal women’s singles badminton match at the Riocentro on Friday wished for. Sindhu, tenth in the global rankings, lost to Spain’s Carolina Marin, ranked No 1, 21-12, 12-21, 15-21 to settle for silver.
Defeat will sting Sindhu, for she had rallied superbly to come back from 6-11 and win the first game, but it needed something far greater to beat a champion like Marin, who has done more for Spanish badminton than Rafael Nadal has for tennis. Marin dreamt of an Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro and made it a reality with some high-quality badminton. Sindhu can carry her head high.
Indeed, it is a remarkable achievement for the 21-year-old shuttler at her first Olympic games, coming as it did with five wins in a row, the last two of which came over the world No 2 and No 5 respectively. On the biggest day of her career, Sindhu never stopped fighting and has won the biggest prize in the history of Indian badminton – an Olympic silver, to go past Saina Nehwal’s bronze four years ago in London.
Let us treasure Sindhu as long as she chooses to grace the badminton court.
Sindhu, the last of India’s shuttlers at the Games, struggled during the initial exchanges, in particular against some lovely drop shots from the left-hander. Down 3-7, then 5-8 and 5-9, then 10-13. There was Sindhu for a period, at once on her knees, made to look uncomfortable, her brow furrowed as she looked at her racquet net. But she fought hard, reducing twice the deficit to a solitary
point as Marin committed a flurry of errors.
Marin smashed one to lead 19-16. Surely the game was hers? No, no. Sindhu persevered, returning serves with precision and power, and the scoreline went from 17-19 to 18-19 to 19-19 and then 20-19 as chants of ‘jeetega bhai jeetega’ reverberated from the sizable Indian support in the stands. It was nail-biting badminton. Then Marin messed up a return against a superb flick from Sindhu, forced to turn as she ran backward, and the shuttle flopped in her half. Sindhu roared, pumped her fists. The first game was hers.
New Delhi, August 19