Shuttler PV Sindhu made an stunning entry into the final of the women’s singles in Olympic Games badminton when she outclassed Japan’s higher-ranked Nozomi Okuhara and assured herself and the country of a silver medal.
Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, went one better than her senior Saina Nehwal, bronze medal winner in London four years ago, by becoming the first ever Indian to enter the summit clash in the shuttle game in the quadrennial sports spectacle.
Sindhu defeated her 3rd-seeded Japanese rival, the current All England champion and World No 6, 21-19 21-10 in 49 minutes with superb, attacking play to enter the gold medal clash.
The Indian shuttler from Hyderabad, a two-time bronze medalist in world championships, will meet Spain’s World No 1 Carolina Marin who ousted defending champion Li Xuerui of China in the first semi-final with a 21-14 21-16 victory.
Sindhu’s heart-warming feat came a day after woman grappler Sakshi Malik had won a bronze in the 58 kg class to end the medal drought for India in the Games on the 12th day of competition.
Babita Kumari makes early exit
Much was expected of Babita, winner of two medals in past Commonwealth Games and bronze medalist in the World Championship in 2012, when she got on the mat a day after teammate Sakshi had provided India with their first medal in this Brazilian city.
But the 26-year-old grappler could not succeed against the tight defense put up by her Greek rival and lost points in both the periods of their pre-quarter final bout.
And when Maria too lost her quarter-final bout against Venezuela’s Betzabeth Angelica Arguello Villegas 3-6, it brought curtains on the Indian’s slim hopes of replicating Sakshi and win a bronze through the repechage process.
In both the three-minute periods, Babita got a leg hold on her rival but the Greek somehow managed to extricate out of the difficult situation and turn the tables on the Indian grappler.
Aditi Ashok raises hopes of a medal
Teen Indian golf sensation Aditi Ashok raised hopes of an Olympic medal as she stood just four strokes off the pace and tied at 8th after the second round of the women’s Individual event.
The 18-year-old was just four shots behind the leader Inbee Park of Korea after firing a second successive three-under 68, which included five birdies against a couple of bogeys, to move to six-under 136.
Aditi (68-68) is tied with five others in 8th place.
Speaking about her round, Aditi, who plays on the Ladies European Tour said, “I shot three-under both days, so that’s pretty consistent for me. I dropped a few shots today, a couple of shots and I could have been a few shots better, but I’m happy going into the weekend.”
Feature image: AFP