Pusarla Venkata Sindhu fought with tenacity, lost the finals, and became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic silver medal.
The 21-year-old from Hyderabad lost to Spain’s Carolina Marin, world no. 1 in the sport, in an intensely close match at Riocentro Pavilion 4 on Aug. 19. Sindhu currently ranks tenth in the world and played an impressive game, closing in on Marin’s lead often throughout the match after winning the first game.
Along with wrestler Sakshi Malik, who won a bronze on Aug. 18, Sindhu is so far one of the only two medalists in this year’s Indian Olympic contingent, the largest the country has ever sent to the games. She’s also the youngest Indian to ever win an Olympic medal.
Her epic performance in Rio comes after years of training under 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 after discovering the sport by chance. Since then, she’s spent almost all her time training at Gopichand’s academy in Hyderabad. Over the years, she’s won medals at several domestic and international competitions, including a bronze at the 2013 World Badminton Championships in Guangzhou, China.
Until now, world no. 5 Saina Nehwal, also from Hyderabad, was the only Indian player to win an Olympic medal in badminton with her bronze from the 2012 London Olympics. With Sindhu’s performance in these games, India now has another badminton star.