Kolkata: An aggressive PV Sindhu kept her date with the women’s singles bronze medal, though not before a few tense moments, to give India their second medal at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics when she survived a spirited challenge from China’s He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15 on Sunday.
The current world champion is now the most successful women’s Olympian from India with two medals - following up on her singles silver in Rio 2016 when she lost the final to Spain’s Carolina Marin. The only other Indian athlete with two individual Olympic medals to his name is wrestler Sushil Kumar, who won a bronze in Beijing 2008 and then a silver in London 2012.
A day after losing her semi-final clash against Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu-Ying, her nemesis, Sindhu had a chance to redeem herself against a gritty He - who refused to give up and tried to rally with small cluster of points.
Asked how difficult was it to shake off the disappointment of going down in the semi-final in less than 24 hours, a relieved Sindhu said later: “It was a fresh game altogether, we both had losses yesterday and came back. For us, it was very important in getting a medal for the country and at the Olympics. It’s not easy. It’s a big thing. There were really long rallies but I had to be patient and calm. Even though I was leading, I did not relax.
The heavy weight of expectations seemed to have lifted off her shoulders with that winning point - as her expression said it all. “It makes me feel really happy because I’ve worked hard for so many years. I had a lot of emotions going through me - should I be happy that I won bronze or sad that I lost the opportunity to play in the final? But overall, I had to close off my emotions for this one match and give it my best, my all and think about the emotions. I’m really happy and I think I’ve done really well. It’s a proud moment getting a medal for my country,” she was quoted as saying to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
On Clould Nine
What about the celebrations? “I’m on cloud nine and am going to enjoy this moment. My family have worked hard for me and put in a lot of effort so I’m very thankful. My sponsors have given me their best so I’d like to thank them and enjoy the moment,” said Sindhu, who had a tough job on her hands in the third place play-off match as He enjoyed a 9-6 head-to-head advantage on the eve of this match.
The Paris 2024 Olympic Games will certainly be one of the next goals on her mind. “Definitely yes, Definitely,” she said in reply to a query.
Speaking to Gulf News, Tuhin Mishra, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Baseline Ventures - her manager and a pillar of support for the last few years - said that the ability for such a quick turnaround showed the steel in her. ‘‘When we spoke yesterday. Sindhu said she was ready to move on after the disappointment and this shows the stuff that she is made up of. We are really proud of her,’’ Mishra said.
‘‘Congrats to our awesome Sindhu on her second successive Olympics medal. While it is all due to the hard work by her and the team of coaches and support staff, I also want to express my gratitude to the support of Sports Ministry, Indian government, SAI and BAI. I also thank govt of Telangana for arranging the stadium for the players and great to see badminton win medals in three successive Olympics,’’ said Pulella Gopichand, the Chief Coach of Indian badminton and a childhood mentor of Sindhu.
Mirabai Chanu, the spunky weightlifter from Manipur, gave India their first medal on the first day of full competition on July 24.