For the second time in less than 24 hours, India have been assured an Olympic medal. Earlier on Thursday, wrestler Sakshi Malik ended nearly two weeks of frustration, disappointment and hurt at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games when she became the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal, and only the fourth female athlete from the country to stand atop a podium at the pinnacle of world sport.
At 21:21 IST at the Riocentro, PV Sindhu guaranteed that she would become the fifth, having beaten Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara – ranked sixth in the world – in straight sets 21-19, 21-10 spanning 51 minutes in the semi-finals of the women’s badminton singles at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The first Indian in an Olympics badminton final — say it again, and let the words roll of your tongue as you do.
Sindhu will now play Carolina Marin, the world No 1, in the final on Friday at 19:30 IST.
For the record, Sindhu had beaten Marin 21-15, 18-21, 21-17 across 72 minutes in last year’s Denmark Open final – her first win over the Spaniard in four outings.
Such outstanding form and temperament was perhaps difficult to envision from Sindhu given her middling form in 2016, which saw her exit a few tournaments at the quarter-final stage. The only title she has won this year is the Malaysia Masters Grand Prix Gold, where she beat Scotland’s Kristy Gilmour 21-15, 21-9. She was runner up to her compatriot Gadde Ruthvika Shivani in the South Asian Games, her second best result.