It hasn’t been the best of the starts for the Indian contingent at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic games. On Day 1, when a few of India’s medal hopefuls took centrestage it was a disappointingly familiar story at the end of the day.
The men’s hockey team began their campaign with a narrow 3-2 win against Olympics debutants Ireland. Led by P R Sreejesh, the hockey team began well in the first half against Ireland and led 2-0 at the break. However, Ireland showed a lot of grit and fought back with two goals in the second half. Rupinder Pal Singh scored two goals for India while Sreejesh made a couple of vital saves at the back. India’s next game is against Germany on August 8 and they will have to up their game if they want to continue their run in Rio.
Every four years, there are a lot of hopes pinned on the Indian tennis players at the Olympics. But every time it’s the same story – it turns out to be a damp squib. Rohan Bopanna and Leander Paes crashed to a 4-6 6-7 defeat to Polish duo of Lukaz Kabot and Marcin Matkowski. Paes and Bopanna haven’t been regular partners yet bizarrely they were sent as a team. It’s no surprise they lost but perhaps its time to introspect for Indian tennis on why a chance of winning a medal is thrown to pander to egos and sentiments.
On the women’s side, Sania Mirza and Prarthna Thombare lost a close match to the Chinese team of Shuai Zhang and Shuai Peng. The Indian team fought hard but it wasn’t enough as they lost 6-7 7-5 5-7 and made it a doubly whammy for Indian tennis. Mirza and Bopanna are the only hope in tennis as they begin their mixed doubles’ campaign on August 9.
Shooter Jitu Rai has been touted as one of India’s biggest medal hopes in Rio but his campaign began disappointingly. While he played an epic last round in 10 metre air pistol qualifying event, he faltered in the finals and finished eighth. However, he still has hopes for a medal in the 50m-air pistol event. It was a dismal day for Indian shooters as Ayonika Paul and Apurvi Chandela failed to make the cut in 10m air rifle and finished 34th and 43rd respectively.
In table tennis, it was a day to forget as all four of India’s players lost their singles matches. Sharath Kamal and Soumyajit Ghosh lost their opening round matches whereas Mouma Das and Manika Batra too crashed out of the singles’ event. In the final event of the day, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu finished 11th in the 48 kg event to round of a woeful first day for India at the Olympics.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom as the surprise package of the day rower Dattu Bhokanal finished third in the heats to qualify for the quarterfinals. Not many had even heard of him but Bhokanal was a bright spot on an otherwise gloomy day for India at the Olympics.
Day 2 at Rio will see the women’s hockey team make their first Olympics appearance after 36 years. India will be looking to make a strong start against Japan in their opening game.
It’s all women power at show on Day 2 as shooter Heena Sidhu will take an aim at the medal in 10 metre air pistol qualifying and finals events. In the trap event, Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Kynan Chenai will hope to open India’s medal account.
There are a lot of hopes pinning on the archers and the formidable team of Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi will compete at the women’s recurve team event. The archery team is India’s best hope for a medal on day two.