Badminton: Silver medal success turns Sindhu into hot property

Fri Aug 19, 2016 1:52pm EDT
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By Pritha Sarkar

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - When Pusarla Sindhu won a gold medal at the 2012 Asian junior badminton championships, her cricketing hero Sachin Tendulkar presented her with a car.

One can only guess at the reception the 21-year-old player will receive when she returns into the arms of 1.3 billion Indians after becoming the country's most successful female Olympian with her silver-medal performance in Rio.

The fact that she had been beaten 19-21 21-12 21-15 by Spanish world number one Carolina Marin in the final mattered little for a country that until Friday had won a solitary bronze at these Games.

The Hyderabadi got a taste of what her life will be from now on when she was pulled and prodded as she made her way through a throng of reporters desperate to hang on to every word coming out of her mouth.

"I'm really, really happy because my ultimate goal was to get a medal at the Olympics," she said as she clung on to the silver medal around her neck.

"I thought it would be a gold but never mind, it's still a silver. I never thought I would make it to here... overall I am happy."

For most of her career Sindhu has largely remained in the shadow of fellow Indian and former world number one Saina Nehwal.

In fact Sindhu was lost in the crowd as India sent a record 120-odd athletes to Rio with high expectations of topping their haul of six medals at the 2012 London Games.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Badminton - Women's Singles - Victory Ceremony - Riocentro - Pavilion 4 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 19/08/2016. Silver medallist P.V. Sindhu (IND) of India poses with an Indian national flag. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo