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Day 10 wrap: India have a disappointing day
August 18, 2008 22:56 IST
Boxer Akhil Kumar on Monday failed to win a tactical bout dashing hopes of first Olympic medal from the ring compounding India's woes in the Games in Beijing [Images] with its challenge in women's table tennis fizzling out in first round and succes remaining elusive in athletics.
Akhil Kumar was stranded on the cusp of history and his dream of becoming India's first Olympic boxing medal winner lay in tatters as he lost rather tamely his 54kg quarterfinal bout against unheralded Moldovan Gojan Veaceslav 3-10.
India's hopes of a boxing medal now rest on Jitender (51kg) and Vijender (75kg) who fight their quarterfinal bouts on Wednesday.
The all-out aggression of Akhil, who had upset world champion Russian Sergey Vodopyanov, could not penetrate Gojan's solid defence and the Moldovan virtually snatched the match from the Indian in the third round.
On the other hand, Gojan's strategy was to remain in a defensive shell and break out occasionally to land the punches on target to reel off the points. And he succeeded immesely.
Akhil did not get points for a few early punches and once the Moldovan took the lead, the Indian just could not close the gap.
Gojan landed the first blow on Akhil and that was probably an ominous sign of things to come. Akhil managed to go for the breather at 1-1 and after second round, both were tied at 2-2.
Gojan proved his tactical superiority in the third round as he never lowered his guard but still managed to land his blows, penetrating Akhil's porous defence.
Desperate to induce the Moldovan into attack and open up his defence, Akhil completely dropped his guard, inviting his rival to come out of his cocoon but the Moldovan was smart enough to walk into that trap.
Trailing 2-6 and with just one round to go, Akhil virtually chased Gojan all over the ring but the evasive Moldovan managed to score a few points in the final round to complete a convincing, even if unimpressive, win.
"I have nothing to say against scoring system or Gojan's strategy. I guess I would have done the same and protected the lead had I been in his place," Akhil said after the bout.
"Boxing may be a four-round game but fortunes are made in the first two rounds. And once you manage to take a lead, it's all about protecting the lead. Gojan didn't do anything wrong," said Akhil.
"Anyway, I have no excuse to offer. It was simply not my day, even though I tried my best. I think the scoreline could have been different in the first round and that could have been crucial for me," he rued.
Coach G S Sandhu was equally upset with the outcome and he too felt Akhil probably was denied a few crucial points in the first round.
India's campaign in table tennis began poorly with Delhi [Images] teenager Neha Aggarwal, making her first appearance in the Olympics [Images], lasted precisely 34 minutes before going down to 35-year-old Chinese-born Australian Jiang Fang Lay in a five-setter 12-10, 8-11, 11-13, 8-11 and 4-11.
Neha, India's lone woman paddler in the Olympics, looked determined to avenge her previous two defeats against Jiang, and went neck-and-neck in the first game till they were levelled at 8-8.
The Indian soon broke loose, much to the surprise of the Australian, to pocket the game in five minutes and go one up in the match.
In the second game too, Neha looked sharp as she raced to a 4-2 lead before her opponent turned the table and eventually overtook her. Neha could not withstand the onslaught of Lay and surrendered the game.
The third game followed the same script with Neha leading 10-8 before the Australian came from behind to grab the game and go 2-1 up in the match.
Neha found it hard to tackle the deceptive returns of her Australian rival and once again lost momentum in the fourth game as Lay ran away with the next three points and the game and the match.
The gloom in India's athletics camp deepened further with an off-colour Renjith Maheswary finishing a dismal 35th in a 37-athlete field in the triple jump event.
Maheswary leapt 15.77 in his first attempt something he could not better in his subsequent two efforts, including a botched one, and finished last in his group.
His effort was well below his personal best of 17.04m, which he had recorded in Guwahati last year to become the first Indian to reach the 17m mark.
He began on a poor note, clearing 15.77 and his second attempt was rejected as foul. His third was a dismal 15.51 and that put paid to his hopes of a place in the final.
"Today was not my day and it was very disappointing indeed," a dejected Maheswary later said.
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