Sindhu toast of India after long-awaited world title

Photo: AFP

Indian badminton star Pusarla Venkata Sindhu said she won it for her country as her long-awaited maiden world title sparked jubilation back home.

Sindhu, 24, thrashed Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in Sunday's women's singles final as she was finally crowned world champion after a string of near-misses.

"I won it for my country and I am very proud being an Indian," an ecstatic Sindhu said after the match.

"I have no words to express, because I have been waiting for so long. Last time, it was silver, before that it was silver and finally I am a world champion so I am really really happy."

The Olympic silver-medallist has a large following in India where her success has brought her a number of endorsements, making her one of the world's highest-earning female athletes.

With income of $5.5 million, mostly endorsements, Sindhu was rated by Forbes magazine as this year's joint-13th highest earner - the only badminton player in the tennis-dominated list, and the only Indian.

"The stupendously talented @Pvsindhu1 makes India proud again! Congratulations to her for winning the Gold at the BWF World Championships," Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

Indian newspapers carried front-page photos of Sindhu, with the Hindustan Times saying she had helped India hit a "new sporting high".

"Sindhu's victory puts India on top of the world," read a front-page headline in the Times of India.

cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar also congratulated Sindhu after she packed off Okuhara in 37 minutes.

"Amazing performance! Congratulations on becoming the 1st ever to win the BWF World Championships! You have made India proud, yet again," Tendulkar wrote on Twitter.

It was Sindhu's fifth medal at the world championships having already won two silver and two bronze.

She matches the record of China's Zhang Ning with five world championship medals, after the now-retired former Olympic champion also won one gold, two silver and two bronze during her career.

Prakash Padukone was the first Indian to win a world championships medal with men's singles bronze in 1983, while Saina Nehwal bagged women's singles silver and bronze in 2015 and 2017.

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