In what turned to be one of the gruelling encounters, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu became the first Indian women to clinch a silver medal at the Olympics after she went down fighting 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 against Spain's Carolina Marin in the women's singles final in Rio de Janeiro on 19 August.
The two shuttlers, playing their first-ever Olympics final, matched each other in both skill and temperament as they produced a rally of an incredible 52 shots in the first game. But, the world no. 1 Spaniard bounced back from the first game loss to eventually win her maiden Olympic gold medal.
It wasn't really a dream start for Sindhu who allowed her Spanish counterpart to control play in the first game. Soon, the 21-year-old Indian found herself trailing 6-11 with Marin in complete control going into break.
It wasn't long until the Spanish shuttler looked destined to seal the first game with just two points left to play. On the other hand, Sindhu was trailing 16-19 with five game points to save and desperately needed a turnaround. But, fighting against all odds, Sindhu won five straight points to snatch the first game 21-19 to the sheer dismay of the Spanish fans.
Losing the first game unexpectedly, Marin came out all guns blazing in the second game to take a 11-2 lead early on. Sindhu tried to counter her opponent with aggressive play but the Spanish player proved too good for the Indian.
It all came down to the deciding third set with both the shuttlers looking to eke out a gold-medal-winning performance. Marin, with momentum on her side, continued to dominate play and soon found herself leading 9-4. But, Sindhu's aggressive play and on-court movement saw her win four straight points to decrease the deficit.
The Indian shuttler continued to push the top-ranked player in the deciding set. But the Spanish star, who was leading 16-14, went on to win four straight points to put the match out of Sindhu's reach. With six game points to save, the Indian shuttler fought valiantly but couldn't save the match.
Earlier, Sindhu produced a perfect blend of power and aggression as she registered a 21-19, 21-10 win over reigning All England singles champion Nozomi Okohura of Japan top book her place in the finals of the prestigious quadrennial event and assure India of its second medal at the ongoing Rio Olympics and in the Games' history.
Sindhu has now become the second Indian player in badminton to win an Olympic medal after Saina Nehwal, who had clinched bronze in London four years ago.
With the feat, Sindhu has also become the fifth Indian woman to clinch a medal in Olympics history after Karnam Malleswari, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and Sakshi Malik.