Kolkata: P.V. Sindhu was on the verge of etching her name into the record books, but she missed by just a whisker as her Japanese opponent Nozomi Okuhara beat her in the final of the World Badminton Championships 21-19, 20-22, 22-20 held in Glasgow on Sunday. However, she won the silver medal, thus repeating the feat that she had achieved at the Olympics in Rio last year.
Having eased her way into the final of the 2017 World Championships, Sindhu for just the second time in the entire tournament dropped the first set, which perhaps allowed Nozomi Okuhara to take the lead and thereafter the match outplaying the Indian in an absolute thriller of a contest that lasted for an hour and 50 minutes.
While Sindhu has all the reasons to be disappointed for failing to win the gold at the grandest stage after coming agonizingly close twice in two years (2016 Rio Olympics and 2017 World Badminton Championships), she can still hold her head high, for her two bronze and one silver medal which she has won at the World Championships so far. Add to it another silver medal at the Olympics, and all this at the just the age of 22 is an incredible achievement.
Despite ending up on the losing side on Sunday, the terrific consistency shown by her at the major world events make her the next big thing in world badminton.
Coming to the final after a dominating performance in the semis, Sindhu started the match on a cautious note as Nozomi capitalised on her mistakes, to take the lead. But, finding her groove and rhythm, Sindhu soon made a comeback and the scores read 11-5 with the Indian dominating at one point. However, Nozomi being a tough competitor, rallied back to take 9 points in a row and win the first set 19-21.
The second set started in a similar fashion as Sindhu took an early lead at 11-6 but again Okuhara with her speed and quick movement in the court equalised to make it 18-18. But, Sindhu held on to her nerves to win the set and take the match to the decider as both the 22-year old and the Indian fans breathed a sigh of relief.
The third set started with both fighting out with equal pace and not letting each other take a big lead. The game soon was levelled at 20-20, but from there on Nozomi capitalised with her quick movement and variations to become the first Japanese to win a gold medal at the World Badminton Championships.
Sindhu created a record after reaching the final as she became the first Indian to play the summit clashes at both the Olympics and the World Championships. India also created another record at the World Championships in Glasgow, when Saina won the bronze medal after crushing out of the tournament in the semi-final against Nozomi.
Thus, for the first time ever, the silver and bronze medal holders are from India. The medals won by the Sindhu-Saina duo fetched the country it’s tally of most medals at the World Championships so far.
With such strong performances in the world events and an array of stars in line, India has already overtaken China as the next powerhouse of Badminton. China who has been a regular participant in the finals of world events, has failed to make a mark in the women’s event of late as none of their female shuttlers could qualify for the finals at both the Rio Olympics and the World Badminton Championships.
Although P.V. Sindhu has been ruling the hearts of the fans after her silver medal at the World Championships, one must also take note of the veteran Saina Nehwal, who has led India to glory at numerous tournaments in the past.
The 27-year old has set the benchmark for the likes of Sindhu and others to follow. She was first Indian shuttler to win a medal at the Olympics (bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics) and also the first to reach the finals of the World Badminton Championships, before Sindhu achieved both the feats. The Arjuna Awardee became the first Indian female and the youngest Asian to win a 4-star tournament and also has the distinction of being the first Indian to win a Super Series title.
Sindhu seems to have taken the baton from Nehwal to carry the responsibility of Indian badminton on her shoulders. With both Nehwal and Sindhu continuously bringing laurels for the country and making India proud, the future of Indian badminton looks to be in safe hands.
The list of medal winners at the World Badminton Championships in Glasgow 2017 are-
Gold – Viktor Axelsen (DEN)
Silver – Lin Dan (CHN)
Bronze – Son Wan-ho (South Korea) and Chen Long (CHN)
Gold – Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan (CHN)
Silver – Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro (INA)
Bronze – Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda (JAP), Chai Biao and Hong Wei (CHN)
Gold – Nozomi Okuhara (JAP)
Silver – P.V. Sindhu (IND)
Bronze – Saina Nehwal (IND) and Chen Yufei (CHN)
Gold – Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan (CHN)
Silver – Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota (JAP)
Bronze – Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi (JAP), Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen (DEN)
Gold – Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (INA)
Silver – Zheng Siwei and Chen Qingchen (CHN)
Bronze – Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock (ENG), Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah (HKG)