Rio Olympics 2016: PV Sindhu’s silver worth its weight in gold for Indian sport

It was truly a golden moment in the annals of Indian badminton, a moment that made the heart of every sports lover in the country swell with pride and admiration.

Rio Olympics 2016: PV Sindhu's silver worth its weight in gold for Indian sport

PV Sindhu of India poses with the silver medal in badminton.

When, at the end of a titanic, 83-minute cut-and-thrust battle, the narrowly vanquished Pusarla Venkata Sindhu crossed the court to lift to her feet a tearful world, European — and now, Olympic — champion Carolina Marin, and give her a warm congratulatory hug, the entire world stood and lustily applauded the wonderful sporting gesture by the 21-year-old Indian.

No matter that Sindhu had just been at the wrong end of a 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 verdict, that had secured for the 23-year-old Spanish left-hander the ultimate prize in sport, and made her the first European woman to bag the coveted gold medal since badminton was brought into the Olympic fold at the ’92 Barcelona Games, one year before the birth of the mercurial Marin.

The magnificent battle that Sindhu waged in the face of monumental odds against a clearly superior and more accomplished opponent, obdurately refusing to throw in the towel for nearly an hour-and-a-half, and the grace with which she eventually accepted defeat, won her the admiration of everyone gathered at the Riocentro Pavilhao to witness the summit clash.

It was a display couched in the highest traditions of sportsmanship: Play the game hard, play the game fair, ask or give no quarter, put in every ounce of effort, blood, toil, tears and sweat; but, at the end of it all, shake your rival’s hand warmly and acknowledge that it had been a sporting encounter, not a war. For all the qualities that Sindhu displayed on Friday, her silver medal was worth its weight in gold.

During the initial exchanges of the final, there had been little to suggest that the match would scale the heights it eventually did. From the Indian supporters’ point of view, the portents were depressing, as Marin revealed a dazzling turn of speed, control and deception to barrel into an 8-4 lead.

As TV commentator Gillian Clarke cannily remarked, the two antagonists had originally come to Rio with slightly differing objectives — Marin to get nothing but gold, Sindhu to settle for a medal of any colour — and this mindset showed in the manner in which they approached their matches. There was certainly far more conviction in the way Marin set about her task than there was in Sindhu’s mien.

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