India's PV Sindhu went down fighting to world no. 1 and eventual Rio 2016 Olympics winner Carolina Marin 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 in women's badminton final. She bagged a silver medal and went on to make history by becoming the only woman silver medallist and also the country's only shuttler to win a silver medal at the biggest stage of them all.
It was a match worthy of a final as it was a see-saw of points and emotions with some wonderful badminton on display. We bring you the wrap of the emotional roller-coaster that went down the wire. Read how the action went down at the Riocentro Pavilion.
0-1: PV Sindhu started by conceding a soft point to Spain's Carolina Marin. A classic left hand vs right hand matchup on the cards began with Spain leading India.
2-2: Both players played the shuttle out of bounds in the initial exchanges as it was obvious that the nerves were leading to unforced errors.
5-3: One could see why Carolina Marin is the World No.1 as she used her skill and speed to race to a 5-3 lead. The crowd was vociferous in their support for Sindhu and it almost seemed like a home match for the Secunderabad native.
8-5: The unforced errors continued but Sindhu kept the pressure on Marin who had raced to a 3-point lead at this stage.
9-6: The net game helped Marin as she now held a 4-point advantage over Sindhu. Game on!
11-6: At the halfway mark, Carolina Marin led with a dominating 5-point advantage. She was clinical in her finishing and used the full court to make the lanky Sindhu move at different angles, thus making it extremely hard to maintain any kind of rhythm and subsequently, gain any advantage.
12-8: PV Sindhu tried to score through a drop shot but Marin saw the attempt and returned with a backhand smash. Luckily for Sindhu, Marin touched the net with her raquet and thus conceded a point.
13-10: Sindhu was rewarded for making a great pickup as Marin made an error and smashed the shuttle cock into the net. One couldn't exactly call it an unforced error but that point was more about Sindhu defending beautifully anyways!
15-11: Till this point the remarkable contest was about Marin holding onto a 3-4 point lead and Sindhu trying her best to close down the gap. But in badminton it becomes hard to gain a rhythm.
16-14: The gap went down to 2 points as Sindhu wouldn't let go off the World no.1 and not letting game one go out of the bag. Some amazing fightback this was until now.
17-15: Carolina Marin, much like a seasoned veteran, had some go-to moves to rely on when she reached a point where Sindhu looked to gain a foothold in the game. Some absolutely brilliant badminton was being played at this point.
17-16: The longest rally of the game was played out with 52 shots traded between the two players. But it was Sindhu who prevailed after Marin allowed an unforced error. The gap was now down to one point and the Indian could smell blood!
19-16: A micro second too long and Marin capitalised. That return by Sindhu was in the air for just a bit too long and the resulting shot made the Spaniard retake her 3-point lead.
19-19: An unforced error by Marin and Sindhu was back in the reckoning again. Game 1 is a see-saw as has been almost every badminton game at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
19-20: Sindhu took the lead for the first time in the game and what a time to do so!
19-21: Sindhu scored five straight points to take game 1 of the Rio 2016 badminton finals. No other way to go about a final than to take on the world no.1 and go on the attack. It was Sindhu's measured aggression that pushed Marin to the wall and finally took her out.
4-0: Carolina Marin came back strong as her screams grew louder and her play more ferocious. A champions response to losing a set was taking a 4-0 lead.
6-1: PV Sindhu needed to get back in the groove as she quickly slipped to a 5-point deficit. A slew of unforced errors had been the undoing for both players (in the match so far) and especially Sindhu up until this point.
10-2: Game 2 was a massacre until this point. Marin was showing her brand of ruthless aggression and Sindhu needed to do something drastic to change the course of the game at this point!
11-2: At the halfway mark of Game 2 it had all been Carolina Marin as she smashed and stomped her way through Sindhu, who looked helpless and had no answer. Could a break at this point have proved helpful for India's gold medal hopes?
12-4: Smartly played by Marin who used the pretext of a smash to drop a point on Sindhu, right as the Hyderabadi native looked like making her way back into the second game.
13-6: Finally, something went her way as Sindhu won a challenge by a narrow margin.
14-7: Some brilliant defending by PV Sindhu who took some ninja lessons from her semifinal opponenet from Japan! She went onto return two ferocious smashes in a row and gained two points on the trot. Still not enough but it was important that she kept fighting!
15-8: Unforced error by the Spaniard as Sindhu somehow tried to make her comeback in game 2 despite the overwhelming odds that faced her in the form of the indomitable Carolina Marin.
17-9: A recurring theme of game 2 has been how Sindhu had abandoned using the court and the angles to her advantage. Her inability to make Marin move across the court was affecting her game and allowing Marin to push on and take the match to game 3.
19-11: Marin pushed Sindhu hard to take a 8-point lead and game 3 looked inevitable at this point.
21-12: Game on! It was decided that the women's badminton final would be decided in a winner-takes-it-all Game 3. While game 2 was a short affair for Sindhu, one could think that the extra effort could have taken a sizeable chunk out of Marin's tank.
1-0: Game 3 started as all the previous ones in this match. Carolina Marin taking the first point.
3-1: An unforced error by Sindhu gave Marin a two-point advantage. She should have done better over there!
5-1: Smash after smash and Sindhu had no answer for Marin. This match was pretty one-sided since the end of game 1.
6-2: Every point by Sindhu at this point was like water in a desert for the largely partisan crowd at the badminton arena in Rio.
7-3: A close call but Marin edged that point. It was a close scoreline at this point despite the 4-point advantage.
9-4: The difference between the two was palpable as Carolina Marin would place her smashes into little pockets of space that she would create by pushing Sindhu. It was strategic and it worked in her favour.
9-6: Two quick points and Sindhu's hopes bumped a little towards the positive side at this point.
9-7: Three points in a row including a stunning backhand drop to beat greatest of drops! A touch of genius by Sindhu there!
9-8: The comeback was on at this point as Sindhu capitalised on Marin's unforced error to claw her way back!
10-10: PV Sindhu schooled Carolina Marin as one of the best rallies of the tournaments was just played for the game equaling scoreline. Scintillating stuff from Sindhu for her 10th point in game 3.
11-10: At the halfway mark of game 3, Carolina Marin narrowly led by a point. Could Sindhu pull off a shocker here? What she has done better in this set is to push Marin to the extremes of the court and force her into making errors.
13-10: Unforced errors by Sindhu allowed Marin back into it. Concentration was key at this point for both players.
15-11: Sindhu's one failing in this match was to constantly allow Marin an opportunity to smash and smash at a empty side of the court. A better approach to hitting the angles was required at this point.
16-13: Two unforced errors, two points for Sindhu. Marin letting the Indian back into the game and putting a new lease of life back into this badminton final.
18-14: Marin clinches two crucial points. Sindhu had to up the ante big time to keep her hopes alive.
20-14: Marin's placement was on the mark as she now had 6 match points to become the 2016 Rio Olympics women's badminton champion.
21-15: Marin is ecstatic as she wins the gold medal point. She then shows good sportsman spirit as she goes and hugs Sindhu after celebrations. Sindhu went down fighting to Marin as the world no.1 was one step ahead of the Indian. Sindhu will still go down in history as the first Indian to win a silver medal in badminton.
It was a historic occasion for India that turned out to be a heartbreaking moment as a gold medal narrowly slipped from PV Sindhu's hand. But she becomes the first Indian woman to win a silver medal and that is a momentous feat considering how the odds were just not in her favour!
Sindhu is just 21-years old. It was her debut Olympics and she ended up winning a silver medal. It's a huge learning curve for the youngster and India's badminton future seems to be in safe hands. But the credit goes to Carolina Marin who displayed tremendous will power to get past her past disappointments. She was heartbroken after she was knocked out in the group stage in the 2012 London Games and proceeded to get a tattoo of the Olympic rings under her left wrist. Four years later, she is the Olympic champion.