Wrap-up: A silver lining, indeed

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Had it not been for Sindhu and Sakshi, there were no positive takeaways for India from Rio.

P. V. Sindhu (Photo: PTI)

P. V. Sindhu became the country’s first-ever woman silver medal winner in the Olympic Games after coming second best against world champion Carolina Marin of Spain in a pulsating clash for the gold in the badminton singles on day 14 of competition on Friday.

The 21-year-old Indian woman's gallant attempt to emulate the eight-year-old feat of shooter Abhinav Bindra and join him in the list of Olympic champions was foiled as the Indian world no. 10 crumbled under the tremendous pressure created by Marin to lose 21-19 12-21 15-21.

Sindhu thus became the fourth Indian to win a silver at the Olympics after shooters Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (2004, Athens) and Vijay Kumar (2012, London) and wrestler Sushil Kumar (2012, London).

The two-time World championship bronze medallist also became the fifth woman player from India to win a medal in Olympics history and the first to clinch a silver. She is also the youngest Indian to win a medal at the Olympics.

Weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari (2000, Sydney), boxer MC Mary Kom (2012, London), shuttler Saina Nehwal (2012, London) and wrestler Sakshi Malik (Rio, 2016) are the other women players from India to clinch a medal in the quadrennial sports spectacle.

From yearning to fly in an aeroplane as a kid to clinching a bronze in the Olympics, the biggest sporting stage of all, Haryana wrestler Sakshi Malik has come a long way in her fairy-tale journey to etch her name in the sporting history of the country.

Born into a humble family at Mokhra village near Rohtak, Sakshi tried playing kabaddi and cricket in her childhood but wrestling became her favourite sport after she started "winning bouts". But, little did she and her parents knew at that time that one day she would become the first woman wrestler from the country to win an Olympic medal.

Sakshi on late Thursday night ended the country's painful wait for a medal at the Rio Olympic Games by clinching the bronze medal in the 58kg category, pulling off a sensational 8-5 victory over her rival in the play-off bout.

"I never knew what an Olympics was, I wanted to become a sportsperson to travel in an aeroplane. If you can represent India, you can board a plane, and fly," Sakshi said on the sidelines of a marathon round of interviews to hordes of elated Indian scribes.

Fresh from her historic feat at the Rio Olympics, gymnast Dipa Karmakar touched down in the country to a rousing welcome in the national capital on Saturday and candidly said she was oblivious to all the frenzy she had generated in the past few days, while promising a medal in the next Summer Games.

Dipa’s fourth-place finish in the individual vault final at the Rio Olympics is India's best performance in the event at an international competition.

The 23-year-old from Tripura missed out on a medal by 0.150 points despite successfully executing the dangerous Produnova vault (15.266) in her second attempt to secure a remarkable 15.066 points in the final. “I thank all for praying for me. I am happy but would have been happier if I had won won a medal for the country because I missed it by 0.15 points... but whatever happens, happens for good. Hopefully, better things are awaiting. I was not aware about the frenzy back home. Sorry I couldn't win a medal but will surely try to win next time” Dipa said.

Disgraced after being ousted from the Olympics Village for flunking a dope test, Indian wrestler Narsingh Yadav “became unconscious” when he was slapped with a four-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS).The dope-tainted grappler has vowed to take his battle to the Prime Minister's Office.  Narsingh had claimed that his drinks/food were spiked during the pre-Games training in Sonepat by unknown persons, which was agreed to by the National Anti-Doping Agency that exonerated him on the dope charge and allowed him to take part in the Games. Narsingh further said he could have easily competed in the Olympics had the evidence of wrong doings were stronger.

He said that such kind of politics mars India's medal prospects in Olympics.

Women power

1. Weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari (2000, Sydney).

2. Boxer MC Mary Kom (2012, London).

3. Shuttler Saina Nehwal (2012, London).

4. Wrestler Sakshi Malik (Rio, 2016).

DC Take
As the initial euphoria over the silver medal bagged by P.V. Sindhu and bronze by Sakshi Malik settles down, it would be time to take stock of India’s performance at global level, especially Olympics. No one can deny the fact that the silver lining in the form of Sindhu and Sakshi can not wipe the lackluster performance Indian’s largest contingent at Rio put up. The sports administrations have to understand that what happens between two Olympics is much more important that what happens at Olympics. It is high time India accorded importance to all sports.