New Delhi: A new star was born out of a veteran's yeoman service to the game - this perhaps summed up India's brilliant badminton campaign at the Rio Olympics which was as much about the legend of Pullela Gopichand as the historic silver clinched by P V Sindhu.
It turned out to be a watershed moment for Indian badminton as Sindhu became the first Indian shuttler to win a silver at the Olympics, surpassing her senior colleague Saina Nehwal, who had clinched a bronze at London Games.
If Saina was the flag-bearer for India in Beijing and London Olympics, it was Sindhu who showed that she can carry the hopes of a billion people on her strong shoulders with a spirited performance that left the whole country in awe of her never-say-die attitude.
The two-time World Championship bronze-medallist achieved a feat that was missing even from the resume of illustrious shuttlers such as Gopichand and Saina. The celebrated Prakash Padukone's career ended before badminton could make the Olympic roster.
In a high-intensity final, Sindhu could not get past World No. 1 Carolina Marin of Spain, but the Indian never gave up and kept fighting till the end. It reflected the emergence of a young India which is not intimidated by the reputation of opponents and is ready to fight till the end.
In men's singles, K Srikanth too showed that fighting spirit, which almost earned him a place in the semifinals after he stretched two-time defending champion and five-time World Champion Lin Dan of China till the end.
It was the sort of performance that made every Indian badminton fan stand up and take notice. Despite the heartbreaking defeat, accolades for the 23-year-old from Guntur never stopped.
India also fielded two doubles pair -- men's combo of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, and women's pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. While the 2010 Commonwealth Games champions had to endure a disappointing run, Manu and Sumeeth showed sparks of brilliance when they defeated World No. 8 Japanese pair of Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa in their last group match.
Saina and P Kashyap were the face of Indian challenge at the London Games despite the fact that the duo were affected by injuries this time....