Rio de Janeiro | Shuttler P V Sindhu made a historic entry into the final of women’s singles in Olympic Games badminton here, a day after grappler Sakshi Malik had nailed the country’s first medal after 11 blank days in this Brazilian city.
The Lanky Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, ensured at least a silver medal to add to the country’s near-empty kitty after Sakshi had captured the bronze in 58 kg women’s wrestling when she outclassed Japan’s world no. 6 Nozomi Okuhara with clinical perfection.
With Thursday ‘s brilliant show Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, went one better than her senior Saina Nehwal, bronze medal winner in London four years ago, and became the first ever Indian to enter the summit clash of the shuttle game in the quadrennial sports spectacle.
Sindhu defeated her short-statured, third-seeded Japanese rival, the current All England champion, 21-19 21-10 in 49 minutes with superb, attacking play to enter tomorrow’s gold medal clash.
The Indian shuttler from Hyderabad, a two-time bronze medallist in World Championships, will meet Spain’s world no.1 Carolina Marin, who ousted defending champion Li Xuerei of China in the first semi-final with a 21-14 21-16 victory, in the final.
Sindhu’s heart-warming feat came a day after Haryana woman grappler Sakshi had won a bronze to end the medal drought for India in the Games on the 12th day of competition.
However, another wrestler made a tame exit from the competition today to end the women’s campaign here.
Babita Kumari lost her opening women’s 53 kg category wrestling bout 1-5 against Maria Prevolaraki of Greece and got eliminated from the Games.
Much was expected of Babita, winner of two medals in past Commonwealth Games and bronze medallist in the World Championship in 2012, when she got on the mat a day after teammate Sakshi’s epoch-making first medal in women’s wrestling.
But the 26-year-old grappler could not succeed against the tight defense put up by her Greek rival and lost points in both the periods of their pre-quarter final bout.
And when Maria too lost her quarter-final bout against Venezuela’s Betzabeth Angelica Arguello Villegas 3-6, it spelt curtains for the Indian’s slim hopes of replicating Sakshi and win a bronze through the repechage process.
Wednesday, while Sakshi won bronze in the 58 kg, Babita’s cousin Vinesh Phogat suffered a ligament tear during her bout in the 48 kg class against a Chinese rival, got stretchered out and also bowed out of the wrestling competition.