Tokyo, Aug 1 (IANS): Indian shuttler PV Sindhu won the women's singles bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday defeating China's He Bingjiao 21-13, 21-15 at the Musashino Forest Sports Plaza to add a second medal to India's tally at the Games.
With Sindhu's bronze, India have now equalled their tally of 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
It was Sindhu's second medal at the Olympics after she bagged a silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She also became the first Indian woman to win two Olympics medals. Before her feat, wrestler Sushil Kumar was the only Indian to win two medals at successive Olympics.
Sindhu's first point in the match came with a 22-shot rally running for 27 seconds. She rose to take a quick 4-0 lead before the left-handed He levelled at 5-5. Sindhu stormed to a mid-game lead of 11-8 with a straight smash down the line.
Post the break, Sindhu started to dictate terms, snatching three points. The rallies were intense but Sindhu's aggressive play didn't wane. All of this, combined with her fierce power, clearly rattled He who lost the opening game in 23 minutes.
In the second game, Sindhu didn't loosen her grip. She continued to dominate her Chinese opponent and took an early 4-1 lead. He tried to claw back with long smashes and engaged Sindhu in net play. But the Chinese was clearly struggling with the drift, which led her to commit errors.
The one-way traffic continued as He was at the receiving end of Sindhu's powerful smashes. The Chinese gave Sindhu time and space to hit her smashes, conceding a three-point lead at the interval.
Post the interval, He looked to make a comeback by winning three straight points to level at 11-11. But Sindhu bounced back with a down-the-line smash and then caught He by surprise with a last-minute turn of the wrist for a fantastic cross-court slice drop for a 14-11 lead.
An unforced error by He gave Sindhu another point. But the Chinese won two points on the trot to bring the lead down to two points. Another rally followed, but it was sealed with a cross-court smash from Sindhu, who opened a three-point lead again.
He won a point but Sindhu forced the Chinese to commit an unforced error to go 19-15 up. Sindhu raced to 20 with another amazing smash. She then wrapped up the match with a scintillating cross-court smash and took the bronze medal by winning the second game 21-15.
For Sindhu, it has been a resounding campaign at the Olympics. She topped Group J and did not drop a single game in her winning matches except for the semifinal defeat to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
But she recovered well to outclass He in straight games.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Sindhu.
The Prime Minister also spoke to Sindhu.
Congratulating Sindhu, President Kovind tweeted: "P V Sindhu becomes the first Indian woman to win medals in two Olympic games. She has set a new yardstick of consistency, dedication and excellence. My heartiest congratulations to her for bringing glory to India."
Modi termed Sindhu "India's pride".
In a tweet, the Prime Minister said: "We are all elated by the stellar performance by @Pvsindhu1. Congratulations to her on winning the Bronze at @Tokyo2020. She is India's pride and one of our most outstanding Olympians. #Tokyo2020."
The Vice President, in a series of tweets, said: "Many congratulations @Pvsindhu1 for creating history by becoming the first Indian woman athete to win a 2nd Olympic medal. Her stellar performance at #TokyoOlympics has made very Indian proud of her achievement. My best wishes for her future endeavours. #TeamIndia."
"By winning the Bronze medal in Badminton at the #TokyoOlympics today, @Pvsindhu1 once again displayed her hard work, dedication and passion for the sport."
Union Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Anurah Thukur tweeted: "SMASHING VICTORY PV Sindhu !!! You dominated the game & made history #Tokyo2020!. An Olympic medalist twice over! Third place medal. India is so proud of you & awaits your return! YOU DID IT."
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi congratulated Sindhutoo.
"Big congratulations to PV Sindhu for winning the second medal for India," Gandhi tweeted.
Meanwhile, Karti Chidambaram, Lok Sabha MP and son of veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram also wished Sindhu. He tweeted: "The Badminton success story of India is because of the training structure created by #Gopichand. Bravo @Pvsindhu1 for winning back to back medals in @Olympics."
Had to switch off my emotions for this one match: Sindhu
Sindhu said that she had to switch off her emotions to do well in the bronze-medal match against He Bingjiao on Sunday.
"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? But overall, I had to close off my emotions for this one match and give it my best, my all.
"I'm really happy and I think I've done really well. It's a proud moment getting a medal for my country," Sindhu was quoted as saying by BWF after the match.
When asked about her celebrations on getting the bronze medal, Sindhu quipped, "I'm on cloud nine. I'm going to enjoy this moment. My family has worked hard for me and put in a lot of effort so I'm very thankful. And my sponsors have given me their best so I'd like to thank them and enjoy the moment."
The 26-year-old paid gratitude to the fans for supporting her throughout the tournament. "A lot of Indian fans showed me their love and support and I'm very thankful to each and every one of them. Definitely lots of love and support and kisses."
In the match, Sindhu was quick into the lead and never let her grip off it. She said that the trick was to be calm and patient.
"It was a fresh game altogether. We both had losses yesterday and came back. For us, it was very important in getting a medal for the country and at the Olympics. It's not easy. It's a big thing. There were really long rallies but I had to be patient and calm. Even though I was leading, I did not relax."
Sindhu concluded by saying that she will play in the 2024 Paris Olympics. "Definitely yes, Definitely."