The trailblazing PV Sindhu smashed her way into history books with a second successive Olympic medal on Sunday, while the men’s hockey team raised hopes of resurrecting a glorious past by entering the semifinals for the first time in 49 years as India surpassed its performance at the 2016 Rio Games on an epoch-making day here.
Sindhu secured a bronze medal by beating world no.9 He Bing Jiao of China in the women’s singles third place play-off, becoming only the second Indian and the country’s first woman to win two Olympic medals. She had won a silver medal at the Rio Games.
With this, India’s medal count swelled to three. Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu (49kg) has already left after securing a silver, while boxer Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) is assured of at least a bronze after making the semi-finals to be held on August 4.
In Rio, the country had claimed just two medals.
It makes me feel really happy because I’ve worked hard for so many years. I had a lot of emotions going through me – should I be happy that I won bronze or sad that I lost the opportunity to play in the final?” the 26-year-old badminton great said after the match.
While Sindhu’s bronze on the day was a reaffirmation of her being a legend of Indian sports, the hockey team’s march into the last four was an overwhelming emotional experience for not just the men who made it happen but also for the country which gave the world an icon called Major Dhyan Chand.
It was the end of a wait that has lasted 49 years. It last happened when American swimming legend Mark Spitz won seven gold medals and 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Olympic Village in the 1972 Munich Games.
Manpreet Singh and his men showed what resolve can do when they outplayed Great Britain 3-1 in the quarterfinal, at the end of which the determined men sobbed in jubilation, hugging each other tightly for they knew the enormity of this win.
“I was believing. Everyone believing in themselves and that was the key today, everyone gave their 100 per cent today and they were dying and almost killed themselves on the field,” said Manpreet after perhaps the most important match of his career