PV Sindhu ends with Tokyo 2020 bronze in emphatic finish

The Indian badminton star dismissed He Bing jiao 21-13, 21-15 to add to Rio 2016 silver. PV Sindhu has become the first Indian woman to win two Olympic medals.

By Abhishek Purohit
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

PV Sindhu became the first Indian woman, and second Indian after Sushil Kumar, to win two Olympic medals as she defeated He Bing Jiao of China 21-13, 21-15 for the badminton women’s singles bronze at Tokyo 2020.

Over 53 minutes at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza court 1, PV Sindhu overcame the fighting abilities of the Chinese left-hander to join Mirabai Chanu and Lovlina Borgohain as India’s medallists at the Tokyo Olympics.

It was PV Sindhu’s second Olympic medal after her silver at Rio 2016

Apart from the semi-final against Tai Tzu Ying, Sindhu’s Tokyo campaign covered all bases, showing almost no weakness with terrific court coverage and net play. To her trademark aggression she added the flexibility to not be pinned into the deep corners and was able to quickly convert defensive positions into attacking ones. Calmly closing out matches, she didn’t drop a single game in her five wins.

Against He Bing Jiao, the opening rally itself was 22 strokes, and PV Sindhu took it with a nicely disguised drop to the forehand forecourt. A quicker crosscourt into the same region gave her a 4-0 headstart.

He Bing Jiao erased that advantage, moving PV Sindhu around in a 34-stroke rally and using body shots and deep, flat drives to win points.

While the 24-year old Chinese made PV Sindhu lunge often to the backhand side of the net, Sindhu was forcing her opponent to do the same on the forehand side.

PV Sindhu’s power weighed in; twice He Bing Jiao recovered to retrieve big smashes, but Sindhu had a third in store to nail the point. A down-the-line smash followed as the 26-year old Indian went into the break at 11-8.

The Indian was dictating terms now, her recently-polished mixture of aggression and net play giving He Bing Jiao little breathing space. The Chinese was on the floor as a crosscourt smash flew to her left for Sindhu to go ahead 15-9.

PV Sindhu’s defence and attack combined again to bring her to 18-11; she somehow managed to contort her body out of the path of a body smash and sent it back with some bite.

Like Tai Tzu-Ying had done against her in the semi-final, PV Sindhu ran away with the game 21-13, the ferocity of her charge complemented with deceptive crosscourt drops continuing to draw errors from He Bing Jiao.

Just how much PV Sindhu’s craft has evolved was apparent early in the second game. Sending He Bing Jiao scurrying from left to right, Sindhu came up with a drop-slice Tai would have been proud of. With the Chinese pinned on the forehand edge, the Indian’s next shot was a ripper of a smash to the backhand corner.

That smash was now causing serious damage to the Chinese’s chances. She hung in, making PV Sindhu work harder still, lobbing deep shuttles to her forehand corner and then having her rush to the net.

It was getting more and more physical, but PV Sindhu would absorb the workload and still have the energy for a smash to take the breather at 11-8.

He Bing Jiao would level at 11-11 only for the Indian to reel off three straight points as well for 14-11. PV Sindhu’s powerplay was proving too much for the Chinese, a crosscourt drop-smash sending He Bing Jiao sprawling again.

The Chinese had more guile in her reserves, catching PV Sindhu on the wrong foot with two deep strokes to the forehand corner.

PV Sindhu clung on to her advantage, though, soaking up all the extra shots He Bing Jiao was making her play. The Indian came out of another draining rally to set up match point, unleashing a crosscourt to the vacant backhand section.

Leaving He Bing Jiao rooted for one last time, PV Sindhu sealed the bronze, stepping forward decisively and sending the shuttle close to the forehand line.