Just when the country was stumbling to pick up pieces of consolation performances from Rio Olympics 2016, three ladies came to her rescue. The internet belonged Sakshi Malik’s wrestling bronze yesterday, 18th August, India’s first medalist at Rio.
Today though it will be all about PV Sindhu. India (also known as Hindustan) has become Sindhustan today! And that will continue irrespective of her performance at the women’s singles final (scheduled 730pm IST / 10pm SGT). She is already the first Indian female shuttler to reach finals of an Olympic badminton singles event and also the first woman to win an Olympic medal other than bronze for Sindhustan! Enough causes for celebration.
Path to final
Sindhu, ranked tenth in her discipline was not really a big bet for medal at Rio. But once she upset the world number 2 in her Quarterfinal bout, she opened up the draw for herself. In life, you chart your own journey, make your own luck. The other half of the draw had world numbers 1 & 3 fighting it out in the other semifinal!
Sindhu faced 6th rank Nozumi Okuhura and played a match which, instead of two games, can be broken into four quarters for analysis purposes. In the first and last quarters Pusarla Venkata Sindhu was simply unstoppable. In the two quarters sandwich within, it was an even fight and the Japanese looked better more as Sindhu made some unforced errors. However a 21-19, 21-10 triumph scoreline looks masterly and one where the winner gradually kept getting better.
Sindhu’s game improvement
Perhaps more than opponents, Sindhu’s greatest enemy, in the past, has been her own inconsistency. During the semifinal she was better during long gritty speed rallies, but was found wanting when needed to do simple smash with entire opposition court at her mercy (or opponent on the floor) – this happened thrice in the second game.
In the past often she has given up winning positions easily. Even during events she has beaten the best in the world on one day, and then lost to a relative non entity the very next match. Around three years ago, she became the first ever Indian women’s singles player to win a medal at the World Championships, but her career didn’t take off from there as it should have. The Rio Olympics though has changed things for her. She will now believe she belongs much higher than the 10th world ranking.
Sindhu’s improvement has been thanks to her support structure. There are reports suggesting her father took eight months leave for being with his daughter – preparing her for mental, physical and game conditioning, driving her 4am daily to the Pullela Gopichand academy. The academy which has changed the face of Indian badminton. Sindhu’s parents were both volleyball players. Tonight her support structure will celebrate India’s greatest badminton night.
Sindhu’s father has truly given an example how India should look at getting more and more daughters into sports. Its time for #BetiBachaoBetiPadhaoBetiKhilao.
All over social media, it was Sakshi and Sindhu the last 36 hours. Three of my posts garnered 300 plus likes and comments nett. Today morning on one instance I counted 43 consecutive PV Sindhu posts on Facebook.
There are enough posts from Pakistani citizens jealous that India are over celebrating two medals! Well, India is changing and making girls and non cricket sporting wins a sign of pride.
The Aditi Ashok fairy tale
Aditi’s name could be reduced to a footnote today but will surely become one of the biggest name in India tomorrow. Tomorrow, as in Aug 20th or in future. Teenager Aditi Ashok is the youngest golfer in Rio, is ranked outside the world’s 100 but made history earlier this year when she became the first Indian and the youngest player ever to win Q School Ladies European Tour. She finished in top 7 in both her initial rounds and with some luck can make it a hat-trick of India ladies medal celebration days.
All the best, go for it!
After a long time, office goers will be returning home early, not to watch an Indian cricket team perform.