Rio de Janeiro | P V Sindhu’s dream to win what would have been only the second gold medal for India in Olympics history was dashed as she went down with guns blazing against world no. 1 Carolina Marin of Spain in the women’s singles badminton final here Friday.
The 21-year-old Indian woman’s gallant attempt to emulate the feat of shooter Abhinav Bindra in the Beijing Games eight years ago and join him in the list of individual Olympic champions was foiled by two-time world champion Marin as Sindhu was confined to the silver standard.
The World No. 10, who has been simply unstoppable in the tournament so far, crumbled under the tremendous pressure created by the two-time World Champion from Spain to lose 21-19 12-21 15-21 in a high-intensity final that lasted for an hour and 23 minutes at the Riocentre here.
Sindhu thus became the first Indian woman and 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 history and the first to clinch a silver. She is also the youngest Indian to win a medal at the Olympics.
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 clinch a medal in the quadrennial sports spectacle.
Away from Sidhu’s fighting heroics, Indian wrestler Sandeep Tomar lost to two-time World Champion Victor Lebedev of Russia 3-7 in the 57 kg category and got ousted from the men’s freestyle wrestling when Lebedev was beaten 1-6 in his next encounter against Sabzali Hassan Rahimi of Iran.
Had Lebedev progressed to the final, Tomar would have been given a fresh lease of life to fight for the bronze through repechage, but it was not to be and he got eliminated.
The entire focus on day 14 of competition was on Sindhu, the lone shuttler left in the fray after the exit of Saina in the group stage, K Srikanth in the quarter finals and the men’s and women’s doubles teams at the group stage.
Sindhu trailed 16-19 in the opening game before reeling off five straight points to clinch it.
She was then outclassed in the second to lose it tamely.
In the decider, the lanky shuttler trailed her Spanish rival 1-6 at one stage and caught up at 10-10 but could not keep the tempo after the short break as Marin simply changed gears to surge to Spain’s first gold medal in badminton.