Pusarla Sindhu went down fighting to Spain’s Carolina Marin in the women’s badminton singles final at the Rio Olympics on Friday, giving India its second medal at the Rio Games and becoming the first Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics.
Carolina Marin overhauled the brave Indian to win Spain’s first badminton title. The top seed, known as the “Rafa Nadal” of badminton in Spain for her tenacity and fierce left-handed game, closed out a 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 victory over the 21-year-old Sindhu, who was majestic in her Olympic debut.
After winning the first game 21-19 with a five-point burst to recover from 16-19, Sindhu struggled to answer Marin’s smashes in the second game. In the decider, Sindhu recovered to trail 11-10 at the break, but lost her momentum afterwards.
Letting out a blood-curdling shriek with every winning point, the Spaniard was jeered by spectators at the Riocentro in a nerve-shredding final as she pushed the rules of good sportsmanship with constant stalling tactics.
But the ruthless 23-year-old got the job done, charging away to grab six match points and sealing it on the second with an imperious smash down the line that her opponent did well to get a racquet to.
Flag-waving Spanish fans jumped up and down in the terraces as twice world champion Marin pumped her fists and bellowed in triumph, having survived a huge scare.
Roared to the finish by Indian fans, Sindhu will bow out with huge acclaim, having clinched the country’s second and highest medal at these Games, four years after compatriot Saina Nehwal grabbed the nation a bronze in the same event in London.
“We are very happy. Sindhu is one of the youngest women players to have bagged a silver medal at Olympics,” her mother said.
Her father said: “This being Sindhu’s first Olympic game, we are happy with the performance she has exhibited.”
Sindhu became the fourth Indian to win a silver at the Olympics after shooters Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (2004, Athens) and Vijay Kumar (2012, London) and wrestler Sushil Kumar (2012, London).
The two-time World championship bronze medallist also became the fifth woman player from India to win a medal in Olympics and the first to clinch a silver.
Weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari (2000, Sydney), boxer MC Mary Kom (2012, London), shuttler Saina Nehwal (2012, London) and wrestler Sakshi Malik (Rio, 2016) are the other women players from India to have won a medal at the Olympics.