CAME OUT OF SAINA’S SHADOW…

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Indian badminton this year saw P.V. Sindhu coming out of the shadow of her illustrious Hyderabadi city rival Saina Nehwal, who was blighted by multiple injuries that marred the second half of her season.Sindhu did what no other Indian woman had done before: bag a silver medal at the Olympic Games — bettering Saina Nehwal’s 2012 London Games show of a bronze medal — which was a first in Indian badminton.Sindhu’s standing was further consolidated when she captured her maiden Superseries title — in China in November — and by the end of what has been a memorable year she possessed her best world rank, at No.6.

Saina, who clinched the bronze medal at the Asian Championships and a team bronze at the Uber Cup, followed by the title at the Australian Superseries, was India’s premier hope for a medal at Rio. But a right knee injury meant she wasn’t at her best leading up to the Games, where the 26-year-old lost to lower-ranked players and failed to make it to the knock-out stage.After Saina’s exit, the Indian medal hopes fell on double World Championships silver medallist Sindhu, known not only for her giant-killing instincts but also for her inconsistency.But her hard work and preparations under the watchful eye of Pullela Gopichand paid off at Rio. Her improved defence helped her dispatch talented and experienced opponents like Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, London Olympics silver medallist Yihan Wang of China and Nozomi Okuhara of Japan before reaching the final.

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