Sindhu Goes Gold + 5 Outstanding Performances By Indian Sportswomen

India's Pusarla Venkata Sindhu celebrates after winning against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara during their women's singles final match at the BWF Badminton World Championships at the St Jakobshalle in Basel on August 25, 2019. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

To win a World Championship, the first-ever Indian to do so, against a high-ranked opponent is a great achievement: PV Sindhu’s place in the annals of Indian sport is assured. That she won the championship in an era when women's badminton is filled with extremely gifted players makes her triumph even more spectacular.

Her last three wins in the tournament came against Beiwen Zhang, Tai Tzu Ying and Nozomi Okuhara, all three of whom are at the top of their game right now.

In the final, Sindhu was never in trouble, and it was great to see an Indian thoroughly dominate a one-sided world championships title clash. The viewers will have quite a story to tell their grandchildren. Sindhu's win will boost her confidence in the Olympics next year. She narrowly missed the gold in 2016, losing to Carolina Marin in the final.

The 24-year-old badminton player's victory at Basel, Switzerland belongs among the greatest Indian sporting achievements. And it can arguably top the list on the women's side in India.

Let’s take a look at five others on that particular list:

  • PT Usha’s golden run- 1986 Asiad

PT Usha’s impact on women's sports in general and Indian athletics in particular cannot be overstated. She was not just India's best, but a topper at the continental level. She missed out on a 1984 Olympic bronze by only 1/100th of a second!

In 1986 at the Seoul Asian Games, Usha was expected to dominate. But she totally obliterated the field in ways unimagined. The then 22-year-old Usha won a historic five medals- four golds and one silver- a record for a single athlete at any international meet. Not for nothing was she called India’s Golden Girl!

The ‘Payyoli Express’ snatched the gold in 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relay. Her silver was in the 100m where she lost to Asian legend Lydia de Vega.

  • Mary Kom- London 2012

Women's boxing made its debut at the London Olympics in 2012, and there was plenty of competition with every pugilist keen to make a mark.

MC Mary Kom, a world champion then, was one of the favourites in the flyweight (51 kg) category. As it happened, it had several top-notch contenders, and one of them happened to be Nicola Adams. She was from Great Britain, and buoyed as she was by the home support, Nicola made it to the semis where she faced off against Mary.

In a bruising contest, Nicola scraped past the Indian, who however had the satisfaction of winning India a medal in boxing on account of making it to the semis. Mary's story has been inspirational one and has inspired many a sporting talent in India.

  • Anju George- World Championship, 2003

Not many know that Anju Bobby Gerge started as a heptathlete, but soon switched over to long jump and triple jump. She is one of the few athletes to win twin golds for them at the National Games.

At the Busan Asian Games in 2002, Anju won a spectacular gold, and hence, going into the prestigious world championships in Paris (2003), her confidence was high. Between Busan and Paris, she was also training under Mike Powell.

The long jump finals had a star-studded field, including world champion heptathlete Eunice Barber and Olympic medallist Tatyana Kotova of Russia.

On her fifth, George made a rousing 6.70m, her season's best. It put her in 3rd place, and eventually got India a medal, its first ever in the competition.

  • Karnam Malleswari- Sydney 2000

Karnam Malleswari, inspired by her elder sister, always wanted to be a weight-lifter, and she has been at it since the age of 12.

In the 90s, she was one of the best weightlifters in the continent. She won the silver at the Bangkok Asiad (1998) in the 63 kg category. A few years earlier, she had been the world champion.

So Sydney 2000 was the final frontier for the Andhra Pradesh weightlifter. Malleswari was in fine form, and she eventually brought home the bronze in the 69kg category. She lifted a total weight of 240kg- the first woman from India ever to win an Olympic medal.

  • Saina Nehwal- World Number 1

Saina Nehwal was perhaps the first world-class woman badminton player from India. Her sustained form from the 2008 Olympics till date has been nothing short of sensational. Her longevity and endurance have been great sources of inspiration for PV Sindhu.

All through the early part of this decade, Saina captured several titles and also won the bronze at the 2012 London Olympics. She reached the pinnacle of the sport by becoming the world number 1 when she defeated Carolina Marin, fittingly, at the India Open Grand Prix in New Delhi, 2015. She was the first Indian woman to attain the No. 1 ranking.