RIO de JANEIRO: “What do I say?” Sindhu beamed, Olympic silver medal hanging around her neck, adding to her overall allure. “I’m on cloud nine. It’s been a surprisingly great week. I played well, I had some great matches and now, I am Olympic silver medallist.”
Then India’s newest woman-child stopped. And exhaled. It was a deep breath. A happy long-drawn “Aaaaahhh” of exhilaration, of relief, of a gradual sinking in of an achievement that is bound to change things forever. “I think I just need to celebrate,” she laughed, the peals rising over the noisy clatter that accompanies roomy badminton halls all over the world. A Chinese-Malaysian rivalry was being renewed, the men’s doubles final ensued nearby, and these things can be noisy. Yet, when Sindhu spoke, in her rat-a-tat machine gun staccato, all of India strained hard to listen.
“Two women medal winners from India at Rio. Do you understand the legacy you are creating back home,” someone asked? “I understand things will be different, very different from now on. There was Saskshi in wrestling the other day, and some others came close, missing by the closest of points. All I can tell them is, ‘Hard luck, but well played.’ “I had come here with an aim, of winning a medal. That has happened. Life will definitely change from now. I can already feel it. But for now, I’m just getting used to the idea of `Olympic medallist’ next to my name.”
We could sense it too. The appropriation of Sindhu had already begun, with everyone seeking a piece of her -from the media, Indian, French and Spanish, to the officialdom and India’s latest appointment to the International Olympic Council.
But there is an innate grace to the lanky 21-year-old Hyderabadi which immediately tells you she can tide over all this and impending distractions with rare dignity. Despite all her awesome talent, Carolina Marin doesn’t immediately come across as a popular champion. Maybe she is misunderstood, but the local support in the final was for the Indian, so when Marin won, she dropped her racquet, fell on the court and sobbed, just sobbed.
Sindhu, defeated but a moral winner, walked up, put her arms around her and gently lifted the weeping champion. They hugged, Marin still sobbing, Sindhu a picture of precious composure. Then as the Spaniard walked to her coach, she left her fallen racquet behind. Sindhu quietly picked it up and placed it at the winner’s bag before going on to greet her waiting coach, Gopichand. The gesture said a lot, it showed rare silver mettle.
Source: Times Of India