Gymnast Dipa finishes fourth on disastrous day for India
Rio de Janeiro : Gymnast Dipa Karmakar narrowly missed the bronze by finishing fourth in the women’s vault event even as shuttler Saina Nehwal, the men’s hockey team and tennis pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna crashed out on a dismal day for India at the Olympic Games here.
Dipa, from the north eastern state Tripura, emerged as one of the few shining spots on a disastrous campaign as she ended up just outside a medal bracket with 15.066 points after putting on a superb display in the eight-woman vault final.
The gold expectedly went to favourite Simon Biles from the US who topped the table with near-flawless execution which fetched her the highest score of 15.966.
The silver went to Russia’s Maria Paseka (15.253) and the bronze was bagged by Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland (15.216).
Dipa’s superb show in a sport that is not popular in the country lit up the gloomy day which started with the the exit of London Games bronze medal winner Saina to further dampen the spirits of the contingent on the ninth day of competitions.
Saina, who was carrying a knee injury into the quadrennial sports spectacle, lost 18-21 19-21 to lower ranked rival Maria Ulitina from Ukraine to make a shock exit.
Two other shuttlers remaining in the fray, K Srikanth and P V Sindhu, atoned somewhat for Saina’s exit by reaching the pre-quarterfinals from their respective groups in men’s and women’s singles.
But more disappointment was in store for the contingent when mixed doubles medal hopes – Bopanna and Sania – lost in the bronze medal play-off in straight sets to the Czech pair of Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradceka.
To add insult to injury, the men’s hockey squad, which had qualified for the knock-out phase after 36 years, was bundled out of the competition by Belgium which inflicted a 3-1 defeat.
A lackluster India squandered a one goal advantage and blew away a great opportunity to create history after a hiatus of 36 years to climb the medal podium.
Belgium, on the other hand, scripted history as they progressed to the semi-finals of the Olympics after a gap of 96 years.
The shooters continued to misfire as rifle shooters Gagan Narang and Chain Singh failed to make the final of the 50m 3-position event, finishing a lowly 23rd and 33rd respectively, to end the country’s dismal campaign.
Women marathoners O P Jaisha and Kavita Raut were also out of depth and finished way behind in 89th and 120th spots clocking unimpressive time of 2 hours, 47 minutes, 19 seconds and 2:59:29 respectively.
Boxer Manoj Kumar lost 0-3 to Uzbek rival Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in the light welter (64kg) pre-quarterfinal bout.
The former Commonwealth Games gold-medalist Manoj Kumar put up a spirited show but could not match the power of fifth seed Fazliddin Gaibnazarov and bowed out.
The biggest talking point before Dipa’s stupendous show was the shock ouster of world no. 5 Saina, who created history four years ago in London by winning a bronze medal which was the first by an Indian in the sport.
She later revealed that she played with pain in her knee. “I had a knee pain and could not give my best. It was heavily strapped, and I tried my best. My movements were not smooth and were painful. It’s heartbreaking loss. I also feel very bad about it,” said the former world no. 1 after her shock loss to the tall Ukrainian, who qualified from Group G.
According to the star Indian shuttler, the injury happened during training before the Olympics and it got worse after she reached Rio.
“It happened just before the Olympics about one and half weeks back. It happened during training and got aggravated after coming here,” she said.
Srikanth, the lone Indian in men’s singles, kept himself in the hunt by reaching the knock-out pre-quarterfinals from Group H by defeating Sweden’s Henri Hurskainen 21-6 21-18 in his second match to make the grade.
Lanky Sindhu later brought some cheer to the dejected Indian camp by making it to the pre quarters of women’s singles from her Group M after getting the better of Michelle Li of Canada 19-21 21-15 21-17.