With heart in their mouth and a prayer on their lips, hundreds of cheering Indian fans at the Riocentro here were eager to witness a new chapter in Indian badminton on Friday.
PV Sindhu knew she had to raise her game to come to level with World No. 1 Carolina Marin of Spain. The Indian did so, quite valiantly, before going down 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 after a hard-fought one-hour-20-minute encounter.
The lissome 21-year-old shuttler became the first Indian woman to win a silver at the Olympics. Sindhu’s medal has made it an all-woman Games for India so far, coming a day after wrestler Sakshi Malik bagged bronze.
Though the spirited Sindhu lost the match, it wasn’t before giving the top-ranked played a run for her money. In the first game, the World No. 10 Indian controlled her nerves better under pressure situations and displayed some good body-line smashes to take five consecutive points from 16-19 down to stun her opponent.
Both Sindhu and Marin looked exhausted at the start of the second game but it was probably to preserve an extra breath for the decider as the Indian failed to put up a great fight in the second to lose 12-21.
The third one saw Marin back to her screaming best, racing to a quick 6-1 lead. Marin’s screams were annoying and it was meant to provoke Sindhu. Sindhu looked a bit slow in her court movements. The only time Sindhu actually came close to Marin in the third game was at 10-11 at the mini break.
But the two-minute breather undid all the good work and allowed Marin to settle her nerves, unlike in the first game. Sindhu kept herself in the game till 14-16 but soon ran out of ideas.
A big scream at 21-15 was the signal of Spanish victory, and the Indian’s historic silver.
“My life has certainly changed now after this silver,” Sindhu reacted after the victory ceremony. “I will now be recognised as an Olympic silver medallist back home. And I am very happy about it.”
Her smile was enough to convey that she played her heart out, and lost to a better player.