If it was Saina Nehwal who broke India’s duck in London and put India in the badminton map of the world, PV Sindhu took it a step further four years later in Rio when the tall and aggressive player from Hyderabad settled for silver after coming perilously close to winning gold – reinstating India’s dominance in the world of badminton. The two shuttlers – Sindhu and Saina had one thing in common – and that was Pullela Gopichand. Also Read - PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth And N Sikki Reddy Resume Training After Coronavirus-Forced Break
At Rio, Sindhu became the first Indian to win a silver medal at the world’s biggest sporting platform – the Olympics. A couple of years prior to Rio is when it all began. Also Read - Badminton: PV Sindhu Believes Players Need To Get Used To Playing In Empty Stadiums After COVID-19 Outbreak
Be it winning the bronze at Glasgow Commonwealth games or bronze at the World Championship in the same year. And despite a lacklustre 2015, Sindhu reached her first Olympic Games where she was drawn with Li and Hungary’s Laura Sarosi. Also Read - PV Sindhu Reveals Turning Point of Her Career, Says Beating Olympic Champion Li Xuerui Gave me Confidence
While she thumped Sarosi in straight sets, the going was not easy for the then 21-year-old against the Canadian, who took the first game and made the Indian fight to come back and win the match 19-21, 21-15, 21-17 and sail into the last 16.
In her Round of 16, she brushed aside Tai Tzu-ying 21-13, 21-15 and then got the better of Wang Yihan again, 22-20, 21-19, to reach the semi-finals, which assured the nation of a medal – but more importantly, she looked in top form.
Next up, the Indian had to face Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, a familiar foe since her junior days, and it was she who stood between her and the gold medal.
Their semi-final – as expected turned out to be a nail-biter. Sindhu won a closely-fought first game and then in the second game, she upped the ante to cruise past the fifth seed and become the first Indian to reach the Olympics final. She won the match 21-19, 21-10 to set up a date with Spain’s Carolina Marin – who was the number one player in the world.
The summit clash lived up to the billing as it took three-sets to decide the champion. Up against the two-time world champion Marin, Sindhu clinched the first game and gave billions back home hope, but her more experienced opposition came storming back to take the next two games. Eventually, Marin prevailed 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 dashing the hopes of the Indian but history had already been made.
As the badminton icon turns 25, we wish her all the success.