75 years of independence, 75 iconic moments from Indian sports: No 73 - P.V. Sindhu wins bronze at Tokyo Olympics

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. 

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes. 

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes.  Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.

August 1, 2021: Sindhu wins bronze at Tokyo Olympics

V. Sindhu fixed her hair, shuffled her feet thrice, leaned forward and muttered “come on.” She took a deep breath before letting the shuttle sail over the net. The point ended with a thunderous cross-court smash, and she let out a scream. She had scaled the mountain of expectations, beating China’s He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15 to clinch the Olympic bronze medal.

She became the first Indian woman to clinch back-to-back medals at the Olympics.

Sindhu, however, had walked into the court with a myriad of thoughts. “I had an emotional conflict, whether to be sad that I had lost a chance to make it to the final or find happiness that I had another shot at winning a medal,” she said. 

But none of those thoughts mattered when she strode into the centre court at the Musashino Forest Plaza. 

Bingjiao, much like Tai Tzu Ying on Saturday, tried to restrict play close to the net but Sindhu countered. The Chinese kept the shuttle low but whenever she offered Sindhu even an inch of flight, she was greeted by a point-killing smash.

The Indian led 11-8 and a streak of Bingjiao unforced errors saw her cruise ahead. There came a time when the Chinese shuttler looked exasperated – she had done remarkably well to cover the court and return a Sindhu smash but the 26-year-old from Hyderabad smashed the return to the other end of the court. She pocketed the first game 21-13.

Bingjiao began to engage Sindhu in longer rallies in the second game in a bid to control the tempo, but the Indian was prepared. She finished points early and derived great success from her ferocious forehand cross-court smashes. The duo was tied at 11 before Sindhu switched gears to take off. She toyed with Bingjiao to take a 19-15 lead. A minute later she embraced her coach Park Te-sang with another Olympic medal in her bag.

Made with Flourish

“I’m super happy to be the first Indian woman athlete to win back-to-back medals,” she said, noting that this medal was a lot more difficult to achieve compared to the silver in Rio 2016, where she had little expectations or pressure.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet! I just want to be in the moment and I’m going to enjoy this,” said the champion, who made it a memorable Sunday for India.

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