TOKYO, July 27: There was resilience on display in hockey, a tactical mind sparkled in the boxing ring but the free fall in shooting remained perplexing and worrying as India’s Olympic campaign oscillated between some celebration and a lot of dejection on day 4 of the competitions here today.
At the Asaka shooting range, the Indians largely misfired and with that the hopes of medals in the 10m air pistol and 10m air rifle mixed team events went up in smoke.
The performance so far has resurrected the ghosts of 2016 Rio Games when similar hype and expectations had ended in a deflating medal-less campaign.
But perhaps the shooters can take a leaf out of the men’s hockey team’s book and find a way out of their current misery.
Hammered 1-7 by Australia on Sunday, the Manpreet Singh-led side claimed a 3-0 triumph over Spain to inch closer to a quarterfinal berth.
It was a tremendous fightback after a loss that could have easily scarred them for the entire Games.
Instead, India produced a spirited performance against world No.9 Spain and scored through Simranjeet Singh (14th minute) and Rupinder Pal Singh (15th and 51st) to record a comfortable win in their third Pool A match at the Oi Hockey Stadium.
Any talk of fight by an Indian in these Games would be incomplete without the table tennis veteran A Sharath Kamal. The 39-year-old took a game off the reigning Olympic and World champion Ma Long of China.
It wasn’t enough to fetch him a victory as he bowed out in the men’s singles third round but it did show the tremendous athlete that Sharath has been for several years.
“It was the best three games and probably the best match and best tournament I ever played,” Sharath said.
In the boxing ring, Assamese debutant Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) displayed what a calm mind can achieve.
Borgohain, the lone Indian boxer in action on the day, prevailed 3-2 over German veteran Nadine Apetz in a closely-fought last-16 stage bout.
Borgohain’s rival was 12 years her senior but both the boxers were making their Games debut.
The Indian became the first from her nine-strong team to make the quarterfinal stage. The 23-year-old showed great poise in a tense contest to triumph by the thinnest of margins. She claimed all the three rounds on split points.
Indian sailors Vishnu Saravanan and Nethra Kumanan finished way behind the leaders as they ended at 22nd and 33rd spot in the respective events after six races.
Saravanan finished 23rd and 22nd in the fifth and sixth race in the men’s laser event while Kumanan was 32nd and 38th in the two races of the women’s laser radial event held at Enoshima Yacht Harbour.
The Indian tennis team’s campaign ended as Sania Mirza and Sumit Nagal could not make the cut for the mixed doubles event due to their low combined ranking of 153.
In badminton, it was tough luck for the debutant pairing of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in the men’s doubles.
They emerged victorious against the England pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy in their final Group A match but still missed out on qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Ranked 10th in the world, the Indians beat world the number 18 team 21-17 21-19 in a 44-minute match at the Musashino Forest Plaza.
However, they couldn’t make it to the knockout stage as they finished third in the group behind top-ranked Indonesian team of Marcus Gideon Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and world number three Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang of Chinese Taipei.
They fought, something that the shooters have been unable to do so far, prompting the national federation to promise a coaching overhaul after the Games.
Considered the team’s best bet for a podium finish, the duo of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker caved in under pressure and failed to qualify for the final of the 10m air pistol mixed team event.
Thy finished seventh in Qualification 2 after topping the first phase with 582. Both the 19-year-old shooters lost the plot completely when the top eight teams battled it out in the second phase.
The other Indian team in the event, Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh Deswal, failed to clear Qualification 1 and finished in 17th place, having totalled 564 across six series (three each for one member).
The team of Chaudhary and Bhaker totalled 380 across two series each in the second phase of the qualification.
Later in the day, both the Indian pairs participating in the 10m air rifle mixed team event, crashed out in the first qualifications stage, missing out on yet another final after an outing that left a lot to be desired.
The duo of Elavenil Valarivan and Divyansh Singh Panwar finished 12th with a total of 626.5 across three series each, while Anjum Moudgil and Deepak Kumar ended 18th out of 29 pairs with an aggregate score of 623.8.
On Wednesday, the mis-firing archers will begin their individual campaigns, while star shuttler P V Sindhu will play her second group match. (PTI)