P V Sindhu's match against Spain's Carolina Marin at badminton women's singes finals in Rio Olympics will go down in history as one of the most pulsating matches played ever. After putting a brilliant fight, the 21-year-old Indian lost 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 in a nerve wracking final.
It was a moment of pride for every Indian to watch the Tricolour being waved by ecstatic Indian spectators during an Olympics final.
As the tall badminton player in canary yellow inched persistently towards Gold, the Indians watching at the Olympics arena and the billions watching on their televisions back home could not resist bursting into cheers.
Though she had to settle for a silver, it was nothing less than a gold in the hearts of her countrymen.
After a drought with not a single medal for the first several days, Sindhu’s silver medal (after wrestler Sakshi Malik’s bronze medal) comes as a huge relief, bringing back hope for Indian sports.
Sindhu’s coach Pullela Gopichand had full faith in her calibre. A few days back, even before she had reached the final, he had said about her game, “It was good but in my book she can do a notch higher. There’s, of course, some chances of improvement in a couple of areas.” His protégé has done complete justice to his conviction.
Before playing against Spain’s Carolina Marin, the 21-year-old Telugu girl had earlier spoken about how it was going to be a tough game since Carolina is left-handed. But determination is something that the ace shuttler does not lack in, and she fought like a true champion.
PV Sindhu won a thrilling first game against Spain’s Carolina Marin 21-19 as she came one step closer to the gold medal.
She had already created history by becoming the first Indian shuttler to reach the finals of the women’s singles competition at the Rio Olympics when she defeated Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in straight games to assure India of at least a silver medal.
Sindhu’s coach and former badminton champion Pullela Gopichand had struggled to get funds for his academy. At one point, Gopichand had even mortgaged his home to raise the funds to start the academy.
The academy currently trains about 120 students, while Gopichand, had predicted some months back that a Gold medal for Indian badminton is not too far off. Saina Nehwal, Srikanth Kidambi, Parupalli Kashyap, and Arundhati Pantawane are the other illustrious names from the academy.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu is the daughter of PV Ramana and P Vijaya, both national-level volleyball players. Her father was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2000. Sindhu’s older sister, Divya, was a national-level netball player before moving on to pursue medicine.
Sindhu began to make waves on the international circuit some seven years ago. In 2009, at age 13, she won Bronze at the sub-junior Asian Badminton Championships. In 2012, she won Gold in the same championships when she entered the semis of the China Open Masters after handing out a stunning defeat to the London 2012 Olympic Gold medallist, Li Xuerui.
In 2013, she won her first Grand Prix Gold title, the Malaysian Open, following it up with a second GP title at the Macau Open. She then won the Bronze at the BWF World Championships, becoming the first Indian woman to win a singles medal at the tournament. Sindhu received the second-highest sporting recognition, the Arjuna Award when she was just 18 years old.
At Rio, she defeated World No 2 Wang Yihan of China to secure herself a berth at Rio. On Tuesday, she beat the Chinese girl again in the quarterfinals at Rio, to advance to the semis and deny badminton superpower China a two-medal finish at the Olympics for the first time since 1996.
After her win against No 6 seed, Japan's Nozomi Okuhara, the reigning All England Champion, to whom she had lost to in each of their three previous meetings, Sindhu assured India a Silver medal. But she did not rest on her laurels and put up a beautiful fight at the finals that all of us can be proud of.
Thank you Sindhu, from all Indians!
(with inputs from Shruthi Mohan)