Anju Bobby George broke a billion hearts on Tuesday when she failed to qualify for the final of the women's long jump at the Beijing Olympics after three consecutive foul jumps.
It was a big disappointment not only for Indian fans but also the athlete herself, as she failed to register even a single clean jump, stepping over the board in all three chances.
It required an out of the skin showing to make it to the final as the qualifying cut out was as high as 6.75 metres or the 12 best jumps.
Since attaining her best of 6.83 metres at the Athens Games, where she placed sixth, four years ago, Anju hasn't been in the best of form, but was at least expected to go past the qualifying mark.
Now Indian medal hopes from the track and field rest in the 4 x 400 metres relay team, comprising Mandeep Kaur, Chitra Soman, S Geetha, Sini Jose, M R Povamma and K Mridula.
Anju's campaign was grounded before it could take off after she hurt her ankle the trials.
"Once I injured the ankle in trials, I knew what lay in store. Still, instead of backtracking, I decided to give it a go. After all, this is Olympics and I have put in a lot of efforts just for this occasion," Anju said.
"But I guess once you injure your take-off ankle, you really don't have anything to do," a dejected Anju, struggling to stand on her wonky ankle, said.
It was a hat-trick of horrors for the Kerala jumper as she botched all her three attempts to fill her cup of woe.
In the 21-jumper Group B, Jacquelin Edwards of Bahamas too failed to record a single clean jump to finish with an NM tag.
Asked if she had ever injured the same right ankle earlier, Anju said, "No, this is the first time that I hurt it. It's not a strain or twist but I hurt the joint and just could not take off.
"The damage was done in the trials and it only aggravated when the qualifying round started. I could neither run nor take off," she said.
Anju's performance in the recent past has not been impressive enough and the bronze medallist at the 2003 World Championship in Paris has not been able to push herself beyond the 6.55m mark this year.
Though she did not contradict when told about her below-par performances of late, Anju insisted she had been lying low all along to give her best here.
"Probably it was not great but then I did not go full throttle. All I wanted to do was to peak at the right time and give my best where it matters most. Unfortunately, my ankle held me back," she said.
"This is such a huge disappointment for me. I came here in great shape and the cut mark (6.75) for the final looked well within reach. But somehow, it was not to be today," rued the long jumper who had finished sixth in the Athens Olympics with a career-best leap of 6.83m.
Asked if it was a feasible idea to make a comeback in the 2012 Olympics Games in London, Anju said, "I don't know. My mind is blind and I need time to think."
Women's long jump qualification results:
1. Maurren Higa Maggi (Brazil) 6.79 metres Q
2. Lyudmila Blonska (Ukraine) 6.76 Q
3. Carolina Kluft (Sweden) 6.70 Q
4. Grace Upshaw (US) 6.68 Q
5. Oksana Udmurtova (Russia) 6.63 Q
6. Tabia Charles (Canada) 6.61 Q
6. Funmilayao Jimoh (US) 6.61 Q
8. Chelsea Hammond (Jamaica) 6.60 Q
9. Hrysopiyi Devetzi (Greece) 6.57
10. Yargelis Savigne (Cuba) 6.49
11. Denisa Scerbova (Czech Republic) 6.46
12. Patricia Sylvester (Grenada) 6.44
13. Viktoria Rybalko (Ukraine) 6.43
14. Karin Melis (Turkey) 6.42
15. Nina Kolaric (Slovenia) 6.40
16. Naide Gomes (Portugal) 6.29
17. Volha Senrgeenka (Belarus) 6.25
18. Pamela Mouele-Mboussi (Congo) 6.06
19. Rhonda Watkins (Trinidad & Tobago) 5.88
20. Tricia Flores (Belize) 5.25
*Jana Veldakova (Slovakia) NM
1. Brittney Reese (US) 6.87 Q
2. Tatyana Lebedeva (Russia) 6.70 Q
3. Keila Costa (Brazil) 6.62 Q
4. Jade Johnson (Britain) 6.61 Q
5. Blessing Okagbare (Nigeria) 6.59
6. Tatyana Kotova (Russia) 6.57
7. Concepcion Montaner (Spain) 6.53
7. Bronwyn Thompson (Australia) 6.53
9. Iryna Charnushenka-Stasiuk (Belarus) 6.48
10. Kumiko Ikeda (Japan) 6.47
11. Viorica Tigau (Romania) 6.44
12. Ruky Abdulai (Canada) 6.41
13. Ksenija Balta (Estonia) 6.38
14. Jung Soon-ok (South Korea) 6.33
15. Olga Rypakova (Kazakhstan) 6.30
15. Ivana Spanovic (Serbia) 6.30
17. Oleksandra Stadnyuk (Ukraine) 6.19
18. Marestella Torres (Philippines) 6.17
19. Arantxa King (Bermuda) 6.01
*Anju Bobby George (India) NM
*Jacqueline Edwards (Bahamas) NM
Q=Qualified for final