Pusarla Venkata Sindhu has done it.
The 21-year-old Hyderabadi shuttler beat Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in the badminton singles semi-finals on Aug. 18, securing a spot in the finals at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Sindhu’s score of 21-19, 21-10 assures her of a silver medal—India’s first in this year’s games—and puts her in the running for a gold. It also makes her the first Indian woman to reach an Olympics final in badminton.
Sindhu, who currently ranks tenth in the world in the sport, has been racking up one impressive performance after the other this week. She earlier beat China’s Yihan Wang, the world no. 2, to enter the semi-finals. Japan’s Okuhara is ranked 6th.
This success comes after years of hard work and training under India’s 2001 All England Open Badminton champion Pullela Gopichand. Sindhu, who comes from a family of volleyball players, began playing badminton at the age of eight and dedicated her life to the sport. Training at Gopichand’s academy in Hyderabad, Sindhu spent nearly every day of the week practicing.
And it has certainly paid off.
India hasn’t been doing too well at this year’s Olympics, and its officials’ antics outside the arena haven’t helped. But Sindhu’s epic performance has kindled the country’s hopes of winning a gold. She plays Spain’s Carolina Marin, the world no. 1, in the finals on Aug. 19.