PV SINDHU became India’s first woman to win an Olympics silver medal on Friday, creating history and pulling an entire country out of its Games gloom with a stunning display of talent, power and grace.

A nation watched, its billion hearts beating, as the 21-year-old pushed world champion Spain’s Carolina Marin to the edge after building anticipation for Indians across the globe ahead of the biggest showpiece final of the quadrennial for women’s badminton.

It’s been 12 years since the flag on the podium — used to both flaunt talent and wipe tears — has been something other than that of China. And the Olympics summit clash couldn’t have managed two better women in the ring.

In the end, Marin left the pavilion dazed with her 19-21, 21-12, 21-15 victory over the Indian in 83 minutes.

Sindhu stayed in the game without rolling over, as Marin’s opponents have tended to, under her blistering attack of strokes and screams. Then, she stood on the podium, smiling politely, calm and poised. It was here that coach Gopichand, who joined the celebrations from the back of the crowd, standing on a chair, gestured the last of his instructions for the day — bite into the medal, as is tradition. This was a medal that meant as much to him as it did to the shuttler.

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