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Sindhu loses gold, wins hearts

Friday’s summit clash for the women’s badminton gold at Rio was a heart-stopping affair.
Champion shuttler PV Sindhu settled for silver at the Rio Olympics after being beaten 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 by World No.1 Carolina Marin of Spain in the badminton women’s singles event here on Friday.

It is India’s second medal in the Rio Games after wrestler Sakshi Malik bagged bronze in the women’s 58 kilogram category on Wednesday. The battle that lasted one hour and 20 minutes, fortunes fluctuated dramatically at the Riocentro - Pavilion 4.

With the win, two-time World Championship bronze medallist Sindhu became the first Indian woman to win silver at any discipline at the Olympics. 

The Indian shuttler started on a positive note but after 3-3, the Spaniard dominated the proceedings and took four consecutive points to lead 7-3 and then 9-5.

Unfazed by the enormity of the occasion and her formidable opponent, Sindhu controlled her nerves and displayed swift court movements and hit bodyline smashes to diminish the lead to 13-15.

World No.10 Sindhu, who was trailing 16-19 at one point, fought her heart out and took five points on the trot to claim the first game in 27 minutes. Carolina, who can rattle any player with her shuttle retrieving techniques, looked like a spectator as it was Sindhu who reversed the roles to clinch the first game 21-19.

In the second game, Carolina, dubbed the “Girl Nadal in Spain” after male tennis star Rafael Nadal, attacked from the start. Sindhu couldn’t manage to control the torrent of attacks and trailed 2-11 at the mid-game break. 

After the break, Sindhu tried to bounce back and displayed a lot of power and strength to dismantle the strategy of the Spanish opponent but failed and relinquished the second game 12-21.

In the decider, Carolina got off to a flying start as she took a five-point lead in the initial stage at 6-1. But Sindhu, who was on a giant-killing spree after dismissing two higher-ranked opponents in competition, displayed grit to pull level at 10-10. Carolina went into the mid-game interval leading by a slender one point margin.

After the breather, the duo continued to fight for each point valiantly but it was the more experienced Carolina who proved superior. Sindhu though kept herself within a sniffing distance of Carolina at 14-16.

But Sindhu was left powerless when Carolina upped the ante to pull ahead 19-14. She edged closer to match point with a half smash and eventually clinched the contest 21-15.

After her heroic effort Sindhu said: “I ended up with silver medal but am really happy,” said Sindhu moments after losing her final clash 21-19 12-21 15-21 against two-time World Championship Marin here.

“I’m really proud about it. I’m really happy. I could not win the gold. But I really worked hard. It was anybody’s game.

“A day before a girl has got a bronze, it’s me now. We have all played well. There will be ups and downs in sport like in life. Losing one or two points. I would like to congratulate everyone. It’s been a great week for me.”

Sindhu also praised Marin on her Olympic gold. “I also congratulate Carolina. It’s been a wonderful week for me. It’s anybody’s aim to win a medal at the Olympics.”

Talking about the final match, Sindhu said: “In today’s match both players were attacking and playing aggressive on court. One has to win and one has to lose. It was her day on centre court today.”
The 21-year-old from Hyderabad said bright days are ahead for Indian badminton.

“Future is good definitely. There are are many players coming up, and many more will succeed. Badminton is doing really well in India. In mens’s singles Srikanth lost very closely,” she said.
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