India cheers Sindhu's Olympic silver medal

21-year-old becomes country's first women athlete to finish with silver medal at the games

August 20, 2016
Silver medallist P.V. Sindhu (IND) of India poses with an Indian national flag in 2016 Rio Olympics badminton Women's Singles victory ceremony at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 19, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

India swelled with pride on Saturday after badminton champion P.V. Sindhu became the first woman in the country's history to win an Olympic silver medal.

The shuttler was unable to strike gold but clinched the silver with her aggressive defence as she forced world number one, Carolina Marin of Spain, to three games in the women's singles final on Friday.

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Indian newspaper front pages on Saturday led with her historic win, hailing the 21-year-old for boosting the country's Olympic tally, which earlier stood at a single medal, female wrestler Sakshi Malik's bronze. "Thank You," beamed the Indian Express newspaper, describing her victory "as good as gold" while a Times of India headline declared "Sindhu shows silver mettle".

Fans in the badminton star's home city of Hyderabad in southern India took to the streets late Friday, cheering and waving national flags as she was crowned the country's youngest and most successful female Olympian.

In the 120 years of the modern Olympics, Indian women had only won four medals -- all of them bronze -- before Sindhu wrote herself into the history books by claiming silver on Friday night. "A young 21-year-old Indian woman showed the way to millions back home, giving them pride and belief that hard work could take them to the top of the world," the Times of India said.

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Sindhu's father P.V. Ramana told reporters that his daughter "performed brilliantly" -- but added he was slightly disappointed that she didn't take gold. "A bit disappointed, but we are happy with her performance. She made us proud," Ramana was quoted as saying.

State governments, businessmen and sports associations plan to honour their new hero with gifts including plots of land, luxury cars and cash, while advertisers are expected to court the photogenic athlete for product endorsements.

Indian Twitter lit up with messages from fans, celebrities and politicians congratulating Sindhu, who won the first game of the final 21-19 before succumbing in the remaining two for second place.

Sindhu declared herself "proud and thankful", telling the ESPN website that she planned to celebrate with "a bit of junk food" after months of gruelling training.

Her achievements bettered that of fellow Indian Saina Nehwal, who won the bronze medal in badminton at the London Games four years ago.

Sindhu and wrestler Malik are India's only two medallists at the Rio Olympics so far, with no male athletes yet to step on the podium, a disappointing haul for the country of 1.25 billion people.

Talented female athletes have long been neglected in patriarchal India, with men typically receiving the lion's share of attention and resources.

But a gradual change in attitudes has given rise to a generation of successful women-- from boxing's Mary Kom to tennis star Sania Mirza -- succeeding on the world stage.



Anuj | 5 years ago | Reply Well done india..though not a good performance this time but something to cheers about
@SNKN | 5 years ago | Reply No one in India believes that they are a "force at" the Olympics. They are aware of the poor sports administration and hence cheer for the athletes who make it despite setbacks. And no, the media hoopla is not delusional. They only back the top athletes who are already well-placed in world rankings. For e.g. Sindhu and Nehwal have been in the top 10 for quite some time. Kidambi is in top 20. Sania and Paes have been world no.1. Hence, people expect them to do well at the Olympics. It is quite another story that Sania is a choker.
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