BRAZIL RIO 2016 OLYMPIC GAMES, Sindhu Pusarla.jpg
Sindhu Pusarla V. of India (silver), Carolina Marin of Spain (gold) and Nozomi Okuhara of Japan (bronze) celebrate on the medal stand after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Women's Badminton Singles at the Riocentro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 19 August 2016.
Photograph: EPA/ESTEBAN BIBA

Pusarla Venkata Sindhu became the first Indian woman ever to win an Olympic silver in women's badminton, and her country celebrated the achievement back home.

Millions of Indians throughout the country cheered despite the 21-year-old Sindhu losing to Spain's Carolina Marin in Rio. Still, there was plenty of praise coming from New Dehli and elsewhere.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wished her good luck as did common people and icons from various fields.

"Congrats for the Silver @Pvsindu1. Very well fought. Your accomplishment at #Rio2016 is historic & will be remembered for years," Modi tweeted.

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan said he wanted to take a selfie with Sindhu once she returned.

There were huge numbers of television crew outside the badminton academy in the southern city of Hyderabad where Sindhu trains.

Her parents, former volleyball players, were herded into an impromptu press briefing.

"She will play like Marin in the future," Sindhu's father PV Ramanna said.

Sindhu lost the women's singles final to the 23-year-old Marin, a two-time World champion.

India, a country of 1.2 billion with only one medal in its kitty so far in the Rio Games, obsessed about Sindhu's opportunity for gold throughout the day.

It was top news in the country's 350 news channels in various languages. Cameras lingered over Hindu priests doing fire rituals to ask gods to bless Sindhu with a victory and Muslims offering prayers in mosques for her success.

Sindhu's coach Pullela Gopichand, a former international player, runs the academy which has coached a host of India's top players including former world number one Saina Nehwal until 2014. Gopichand has said of his student: "She never gives up." 

For years Sindhu travelled 120 kilometres a day from her home to the academy and back.

"We would be there at 4.30am," her father said.

"She gave her 100 percent today," Sindhu's mother P Vijaya said. "Every day cannot be the same." 

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