OLYMPICS/Following heartbreaking loss, Tai has special moment with Sindhu

08/02/2021 05:48 PM
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Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎, left) and P.V. Sindhu. Image taken from Tai
Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎, left) and P.V. Sindhu. Image taken from Tai's Facebook page (facebook.com/profile.php?id=100044580272976)

Taipei, Aug. 2 (CNA) Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying (戴資穎) had just lost a heartbreaker in her Olympic badminton gold medal match final, but comforting words from fellow shuttler P.V. Sindhu of India helped her get through her cauldron of emotions.

In a Facebook post late Sunday, Tai said she was feeling reasonably satisfied with her performance after losing to China's Chen Yufei (陳雨菲) 18-21, 21-19, 18-21 in the women's singles final, when Sindhu sought her out after the medal ceremony.

According to Tai, Sindhu, whom Tai defeated in the tournament's semifinals on Saturday, gave her a hug, holding her face said: "You [Tai] performed very well. Today just wasn't your day."

Sindhu then held Tai in her arms and told her she knew all about the disappointment, a comforting voice of support that the world No. 1 said touched her deeply.

"That sincere encouragement made me burst out in tears ... I was really sad because I tried so hard," Tai wrote.

As much as Tai was gutted by not coming away with gold in a match decided down the stretch by several unforced errors from the 27-year-old Taiwanese, it was by far her best showing in a major event.

She did not get past the round of 16 in the Olympics in 2012 or 2016 and had never advanced past the quarterfinal round in a World Championship.

"Deep down I tried to tell myself I was good and I did my best," Tai said, explaining that all she could do was to accept the outcome.

Though she did not win gold, she felt the loss would provide motivation, though in what way remains to be seen.

"The disappointment of not standing in first place on a podium is still there, but because nothing is always perfect, it motivates you to perform better," Tai said, without elaborating whether this meant at the next Olympics.

Prior to the Tokyo games, the Taiwanese had hinted that this could be her last appearance at the major international sporting event.

"Maybe I won't have another shot at the Olympics, but all I can say is that I have achieved this goal even though the result was not what I had hoped for," she wrote on Facebook Sunday.

More than any athlete in 2021, Taiwanese fans yearned for the popular Tai to win a gold medal in Tokyo, having watched her hold down the world's top ranking in women's singles for more than 150 weeks but never hitting it big on the sport's biggest stage.

Originally from Taiwan's southern port city of Kaohsiung, her parents have always been extremely fond of badminton.

She picked up the sport at a very young age, and she became so good for her age group that she qualified to compete in top tier badminton competitions in Taiwan as a sixth grader.

Her father, Tai Nan-kai (戴楠凱), said he quickly saw the potential and began investing more time and money into his daughter's training.

She got progressively better but soon complained that "she was always going to competitions whereas other kids got to enjoy outings with their father," he said.

Tai's father said that back then he would take his daughter around the country to seek various challenges, whether the opponents were young or adults, just to give her experience on how to deal with their various styles of play.

The young Taiwanese prodigy eventually became world No. 1 in the women's singles at the age of 22 in December 2016 and has been there for long periods since.

Tai was the women's singles gold medalist in the 2018 Asian Games and 2017 Summer Universiade.

(By Huang Chiao-wen, Lung Po-an and Ko Lin)

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