India at Olympics Day 3: Archers hit Korean wall, TT veteran Sharath advances, fencer Bhavani makes a mark
Veteran paddler A Sharath Kamal turned back the clock to make the next round and fencer C A Bhavani Devi showed some spark in her debut but India’s Olympic campaign on day 3 of the competitions was littered with disappointments in archery, shooting, boxing and tennis.
The 39-year-old Sharath defeated world bronze-medallist Tiago Polonia of Portugal, prevailing 2-11 11-8 11-5 9-11 11-6 11-9 in 49 minutes to set up a clash with Olympic and world champion Ma Long from China who is arguably the greatest table tennis player of all time.
But the women’s singles campaign in the same sport came to an end with both Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee losing their respective preliminary round matches.
Loss awaited India’s first ever fencer in the Olympics, C A Bhavani Devi, too. But the two rounds she lasted, before being outwitted by world number three Manon Brunet in the women’s individual sabre event, made for memorable moments in an otherwise deflating day.
The 27-year-old began her campaign with a confident 15-3 win against Tunisia’s Nadia Ben Azizi but bumped into Rio Olympics semifinalist Frenchwoman Brunet in the next round, which she lost 7-15.
“I did my level best but couldn’t win. I am sorry…Thank you so much i will come back much stronger and successful at Next Olympics with all your Prayers,” she said.
There was an all-too-familiar disappointment awaiting the archers when they squared off against the invincible Koreans.
Two days after the mixed team was knocked out by Korea in the quarterfinals, the men’s trio of Pravin Jadhav, Atanu Das and Tarundeep Rai succumbed in straight sets against their formidable opponents in the same round of eight stage.
South Korea went on to win the title by smashing Chinese Taipei 6-0.
On the tennis court, Sumit Nagal was blown away by world number two Daniil Medvedev in the men’s singles second round as India’s tennis challenge all but ended at the Games.
The Russian did not even need his ‘A’ game as he cruised to a 6-2 6-1 win in just 66 minutes against 160th ranked Nagal at court 1 of the Ariake Tennis Centre.
Another downer has been the men’s boxing campaign. A third one bowed out on Monday in middleweight (75kg) Ashish Chaudhary, paying for an underwhelming start in his maiden Olympic appearance.
He lost 0-5 to China’s Erbieke Touheta in a bout, which could have been way closer had he turned it up a little bit earlier.
A better fight came from the women’s hockey team but poor execution proved to be its undoing, leading to a 0-2 defeat at the hands of Germany.
After the 1-5 drubbing at the hands of world no.1 Netherlands, the Indians lifted their game but it was not enough to get past world no.3 and Rio Games bronze-medallists Germany in their second Pool A match at the Oi Hockey Stadium.
There were no suprises in swimming either with Sajan Prakash failing to qualify for the men’s 200m butterfly semifinals finishing fourth in Heat 2.
Prakash, who clocked a personal best of 1:56:38 in Italy last month to breach the A mark for Olympic qualification, could only manage 1:57.22 to finish 24th among 38 swimmers. The top-16 progressed to the semifinals.
In badminton, the Indian men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty suffered a straight game loss to world number ones Marcus Gideon Fernaldi and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia in their second Group A match.
The world number 10 Indian duo could never find their rhythm and lost 13-21 12-21 in 32 minutes against the top seeded team. It was their ninth defeat to the Indonesian pair in as many meetings.
After the proclaimed medal hopes mis-fired, the skeet shooters too made quiet exits.
Angad Vir Singh Bajwa finished 18th while his senior compatriot Mairaj Ahmad Khan ended 25th in the men’s skeet event, failing to make the six-man finals by some distance.
The medal hopes now are hinging on the young shooters in the mixed events.
In the 10m air pistol mixed event, the formidable pair of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker will fancy their chances after a terrific run in recent years, during which they dominated almost all major competitions.
Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh Deswal will be the other Indian team participating in the event.
Divyansh Singh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan will represent India in the 10m mixed rifle team event with Deepak Kumar and Anjum Moudgil being the other team.