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PV Sindhu shines, scripts history

Monday, 02 August 2021 | PTI | Tokyo/New Delhi/Hyderabad

Shuttler secures Bronze to become 2nd Indian and country’s 1st woman to win two Olympic medals, creates Olympic history too; men’s hockey team makes it to semis after 49-yr drought

By and large, it was a good day for India at the ongoing Olympics. While reigning world champion PV Sindhu on Sunday scripted history as she became only the second Indian and the country’s first woman to win two Olympic medals, securing a Bronze after a straight-game win over world No. 9 He Bing Jiao of China in the badminton women’s singles third-place play-off here, the Indian men’s hockey team defeated Great Britain 3-1 in a quarterfinal match to qualify for the semifinals of Olympics Games after 49 years here on Sunday. Making India proud Sindhu also became only the fourth player to win two consecutive medals in women’s badminton singles across the Olympic History.

Sindhu, who has returned with medals from each of the big-ticket events such as the Commonwealth and Asian Games and the BWF World Tour Finals in the last five years, outwitted eighth seed Bing Jiao 21-13, 21-15 to add a Bronze to the Silver that she had secured at the 2016 Rio Games.

“It makes me feel really happy because I’ve worked hard for so many years. I had a lot of emotions going through me — should I be happy that I won Bronze or sad that I lost the opportunity to play in the final? But overall, I had to close off my emotions for this one match and give it my best, my all and think about the emotions. I’m really happy and I think I’ve done really well. It’s a proud moment getting a medal for my country,” the 26-year-old said after the match.

Wrestler Sushil Kumar is the first and only other Indian to win two Olympic medals, following up his Bronze at 2008 Beijing with a Silver at the 2012 London edition.

Up against an opponent, who had beaten her nine times so far in the last 15 meetings, Sindhu showed great determination to outplay Bing Jiao with her aggression to scoop India’s third medal at Tokyo.

Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu has already gone back after collecting a silver, while boxer Lovlina Borgohain is assured of at least a bronze so far.

Sindhu showed great fortitude as she recovered from her painful semifinal loss to world no.1 Tai Tzu Ying and produced an aggressive show at the Musashino Forest Plaza on Sunday. Sindhu needed an extra dose of motivation following the semifinal loss and that came from her father PV Ramana. The doting father said that he asked her to concentrate on her game against China’s Bing Jiao in the bronze medal play-off and “just think that you are giving me a gift”. His wish was duly fulfilled by his world conquering daughter who later said that her “family had worked hard” for her achievements.

“It was a fresh game altogether. We both had losses yesterday and came back. For us, it was very important in getting a medal for the country and at the Olympics,” Sindhu said.

“It’s not easy. It’s a big thing. There were really long rallies but I had to be patient and calm. Even though I was leading, I did not relax. I’m on cloud nine. I’m going to enjoy this moment,” Sindhu said.

Congratulations poured in from all over India as the country celebrated the win. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the ace badminton player as India’s pride after she won the bronze in the Tokyo Olympics. Modi also spoke to Sindhu on phone to congratulate her. He tweeted, “We are all elated by the stellar performance by PV Sindhu. Congratulations to her on winning the Bronze at @Tokyo2020.  She is India’s pride and one of our most outstanding Olympians.”

Film stars Ayushmann Khurrana, Taapsee Pannu, Dulquer Salmaan and Abhishek Bachchan among others on Sunday celebrated the Indian shuttler’s bronze win as did India’s lone individual Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra, top wrestler and Olympic medal hopeful Bajrang Punia, former and current cricketers like Anil Kumble, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Ishant Sharma. The BCCI also tweeted its congratulatory message for the badminton star.

Congratulating Sindhu on winning her historic bronze, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur wrote: “SMASHING VICTORY PV Sindhu!!! You dominated the game & made history #Tokyo2020! An Olympic medalist twice over! India is so proud of you & awaits your return!”

While Sindhu’s Bronze on the day was a reaffirmation of her being a legend of Indian sports, the hockey team’s march into the last four was an overwhelming emotional experience for not just the men who made it happen but also for the country which gave the world an icon called Major Dhyan Chand. It was the end of a wait that has lasted 49 years. It last happened when American swimming legend Mark Spitz won seven Gold medals and 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic Village in the 1972 Munich Games.

India’s joy doubled when the Indian men’s hockey team defeated Great Britain 3-1 in a quarterfinal match to qualify for the semifinals of Olympics Games after 49 years. India scored three field goals through Dilpreet Singh (7th minute), Gurjant Singh (16th) and Hardik Singh (57th) to seal the win for the eight-time Olympic champions. The lone goal for Great Britain was scored by Sam Ward in the 45th minute.

The last time India featured in the semifinals of the Olympics was in 1972 Munich Games where they lost 0-2 to arch-rivals Pakistan. India will take on world champions Belgium in the semifinal on Tuesday.

Manpreet Singh and his men showed what resolve can do when they outplayed Great Britain 3-1 in the quarterfinal, at the end of which the determined men sobbed in jubilation, hugging each other tightly for they knew the enormity of this win.

They play world champions Belgium next and a win would mean a medal secured while a loss will still give them a shot at the bronze.

While Sindhu and the hockey team’s guts fetched them the desired results, it was not to be for boxer Satish Kumar, the first super heavyweight (+91kg) to qualify for the Olympics.

On the golf course, Anirban Lahiri ended his second Olympic campaign at Tied 42nd spot after carding a one-over 72 in the fourth and final round.

The other Indian in fray, Udayan Mane, who got into the field as a result of some withdrawals, also shot one-over 72 in the final round after earlier rounds of 76-69-70. He was 3-over for the week and ended 56th.

Indian equestrian Fouaad Mirza picked up 11.20 penalty points and was placed 22nd after the cross-country round.

A good round in the individual show jumping qualifier on Monday will ensure that Mirza, India’s only equestrian at the Olympics in over two decades, and his horse Seigneur Medicott, remain in the top 25 and make the eventing individual jumping final in the evening.

On Monday, the women’s hockey team will be in pursuit of history when it takes on Australia in the quarterfinals, while discus thrower Kamlpreet Kaur will compete in the women’s finals, hoping to replicate her brilliant qualification performance in the main event.

Also, Sanjeev Rajput and Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar will look to round off what has been a forgettable campaign for the Indian shooting team on a positive note when they compete in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions.

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