For 24 hours, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu did what no other Indian athlete has ever managed to give: hope. Hope of seeing an Indian woman win a gold medal. Eight years ago, when Abhinav Bindra won the gold medal in Beijing, it was unexpected and perhaps very few were glued in front of their TV sets to cheer him on. Sindhu's was a different story as an entire country expected her to bring back that gold medal which has been more than elusive in individual sport.
The air was thick with anticipation and expectation and 7.30 pm couldn't come quick enough. For 83 minutes Sindhu went toe-to-toe against the world number 1 Caroline Marin. She matched her shot for shot- even outplayed her - but it wasn't enough as the Spanish champion edged Sindhu in three sets to win the gold medal.
As she missed the final shot, Sindhu slumped on the floor at the obvious disappointment of missing a chance to get that gold medal around her neck. Within seconds, she composed herself and perhaps it dawned on her that even in defeat this was still a special and historic moment. She became the youngest Indian to win a medal and the first woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics.
Sindhu began the match well and fought back to win the first set 21-19. But Marin is the world champion for a good reason and came back strongly to win the second set 21-11. In the third set, it looked like Marin would outplay Sindhu as she took a 10-4 lead. The highlight of Sindhu's Olympics campaign has been her ability to script sensational comebacks. She leveled the game at 10-10 and fought hard but Marin was the better player on the day and prevailed in the end.
It is often said that you don't win silver but lose a gold at the Olympics. For a country like India where medals have proven to be rare commodities, it doesn't hold true. To be able to have a shot at gold is itself a fantastic achievement for Indian athletes considering the hurdles they cross just to be at the Olympics. It was heartening to see Sindhu fight like a champion against the world champion. Before the match Sindhu had given India the hope and even after it there is a sense of hope that this is just the beginning for her. Her achievement will give young girls the hope of emulating or perhaps even surpassing her at the Olympics.
At 21, she has already created history but just fell short of eternal glory. Four years later in Tokyo, every Indian would be hoping that she takes that final step and we get to hear the Indian national anthem at the Olympics. Sports is mostly about stories - great, good, bad and ugly - and PV Sindhu just wrote an inspiring one of her own which will go down in history books.
Photo Gallery: P V Sindhu clinches silver, creates Olympic history