Shuttlers PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth made winning starts in their women’s and men’s singles badminton campaign, whereas the mixed doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna advanced to the quarterfinal. These were the only winners in India’s Olympic contingent on Thursday in Rio de Janeiro.
Sindhu marked the start of badminton at the Games with a facile win in the women’s individual competition. She brushed aside her opponent Laura Sarosi of Hungary 21-8, 21-9, starting off on a superb note and managing to hold onto the advantage.
London Games bronze-medallist Saina also started her campaign on a resounding note, seeing off the Brazil’s Lohaynny Vicente challenge 21-17, 21-17 in straight games in the Group G match. Capping off a successful day for Indian shuttlers was Srikanth, who registered a straight-set win against Mexico’s Lino Munoz (21-11, 21-17) in his first ever Olympics match.
At the Olympic Hockey Centre in Deodoro Park, India progressed to the men’s hockey quarter-finals for the first time since 1980 Moscow Games, even after a 1-2 defeat to the world No 2, Netherlands. After the completion of round four, Indian team is at third spot in the standings with six points, four points behind leaders the Netherlands and Germany and a point ahead of Argentina. India booked the knock-out spot, since fifth placed Ireland won’t be able to overtake them anymore with just a game left in the group stage.
But while the news coming from the men’s category was inspiring, the same couldn’t be said about the Indian women’s hockey team. They went down 0-3 to USA, slumping to a third successive loss in the Rio Olympics. India now stand as one of the bottom two teams (the other being Japan) with just one point from four matches in the Pool B standings. Their chance of making it to the quarterfinals look bleak. To begin with, India will have to beat Argentina in their final pool fixture on August 13 for any chance of qualifying.
However, the exits of former boxer Shiva Thapa and the last of India’s two female archers added a pall of gloom to the mood.
Thapa, a former world No 3, was beaten 0-3 by Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez in the men’s bantamweight 56kg competition. That leaves the other two Indian pugilists, Vikas Krishan and Manoj Kumar to contest the pre-quarters of their respective categories.
The last of India’s archers exited the Rio Olympics within 20 minutes of each other, losing in the individual women’s pre-quarters. Deepika Kumari was beaten 0-6 by Chinese Taipeir’s Ya-Ting Tan and Bombayla Devi 2-6 by Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia.
Tennis however, threw a positive result as the mixed doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna entered the quarterfinals with a straight-set win over Australian pair of Samantha Stosur and John Peers. Sania and Bopanna won 7-5, 6-4 in 73 minutes. Next, they face the unseeded Great Britain pair of Andy Murray and Heather Watson, who defeated Spaniards David Ferrer and Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-3.
The news from India’s other badminton events was disappointing, with both the women’s and men’s doubles pairs beaten in straight games. First, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa lost their Group A match to Japan’s Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi 15-21, 10-21. The No 1 seeds wrapped up the win in just 38 minutes, sending Gutta and Ponnapa into their next match against the Dutch pair of Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek on Friday needing to win to remain in contention for the next round. Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Atri were beaten by Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan and Mohammad Ashan 21-18 (in 18 minutes), 21-13 (in 14 minutes).
Later, SSP Chawrasia and Anirban Lahiri had a topsy-turvy start to their campaign as they carded a even-par 71 and three-over 74 respectively in the opening round. Chawrasia and Lahiri were tied 27th and tied 49th respectively as golf returned to the Olympics after 112 years.
Source: Times of India