The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind for Indian sports fans. While most of us were in deep slumber, Sakshi Malik gave her countrymen a delightful surprise by winning a bronze in 58 kg wrestling category. But the main event, which people were waiting with bated breath, was Sindhu’s quarterfinal. And she didn’t disappoint — her performance against her Japanese opponent was nothing short of spectacular. Was it a shock victory or an upset? Not really — as Sindhu beat the world number 2 Yihan Wang in the quarterfinal.
Still, it was an uphill task as she was playing world number 5 Nozomi Okohura in the semi final. The odds weren’t really in her favour as Okohura was the better ranked player. But Sindhu displayed a streak of aggression throughout the match that her opponent struggled to cope with and won 21-20 21-10. In the second set she won 11 straight points to seal her spot in the final of the Olympics.
Over the last few years, Sindhu’s stock has quietly but confidentlyhas gone upwards. She is the natural heiress to Saina Nehwal’s throne. Nehwal has been phenomenal in the last 10 years for Indian badminton and four years back even won the bronze medal in London Olympics.
Two years ago, this writer asked Sindhu about her so-called rivalry with Saina Nehwal, but she shrugged off by saying that “there isn’t any rivalry but just intensity of competition”. Even Nehwal has been complementary about Sindhu’s performance and it has been heartening to see two Indian women fighting for glory in the world of badminton.
While Saina did bring India laurels four years ago in London, Sindhu has already bettered her performance. However, this isn’t between Saina and Sindhu as both women have been exceptional athletes for India. Rio 2016, however, has been the story of Sindhu – her talent, hard work and dedication. The entire country will be hoping that she makes the impossible dream come true. An Indian woman winning a gold medal at the Olympics? That’s what fairytales are made of.