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Mirabai brightens disappointing day for India

July 24, 2021 18:04 IST
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If only the shooters had found their targets, the story would have been so different! sighs Raj Kishore Mishra.

IMAGE: Mirabai Chanu competes in the weightlifting women's 49 kg category in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo International Forum, July 24, 2021. Photograph: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Mirabai Chanu brought cheers to millions of Indians by opening the country's medal count -- a silver -- in the 49 kg category of weightlifting in an otherwise underwhelming performance by the Indians.

She gave it all she had in a bid for the yellow metal, but her Chinese rival, Hou Zhihui was just too good, setting new Olympic records in both snatch and clean and jerk.

The most disappointing show was in shooting where both Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela failed to qualify for the finals in the 10 m Air Rifle event.

Similarly, in the 10 m Air Pistol for men, world number one Abhishek Verma failed to make it to the finals.

Compatriot Saurabh Chaudhary, feted as one among the sportspersons to watch out for at Tokyo, flattered to deceive. Chaudhary reached the final of the 10 m Air Pistol in imperious style by topping the qualification round with an impressive score of 586 but faded away by finishing a poor 7th.

Now, the 19 year old will have another chance to redeem himself in partnership with Manu Bhaker in the mixed Air Pistol event.

Earlier, star archer Deepika Kumari dished out a below par performance being placed 9th in the ranking rounds. The men fared worse with hubby Atanu Das being pushed down the order by an inexperienced Praveen Jadhav.

As a result, Deepika had to pair up with the latter in the mixed event. The duo did well to get the better of their higher ranked rivals from Chinese Taipei to reach the last 8 but had no chance against the mighty Koreans thereafter.

Deepika, though, lives for another day to fight for honours in the individual category. She should have a relatively easy passage in the round of 64 against a Bhutanese rival but the going would only be getting tougher thereafter.

Another major setback for India's medal hunt was the shocking exit of strong medal contender Vikash Krishan in the welterweight category of boxing. A bruised and bleeding Krishan was no match for his younger Japanese opponent and lost by a unanimous points decision.

Badminton served mixed fare for India. While the young guns, Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, shocked their fancied Chinese Taipei rivals, seeded three, at the group stage, world championship bronze medallist, B Sai Praneeth went down tamely to his lower ranked opponent from Israel.

The former will have another mountain to climb in the form of the world number one pair from Indonesia but it's not beyond them to pull off another upset.

In hockey, the men in white were up against a doughty New Zealand side. They won but just about -- the score line being 3-2. But for a sparkling display by goal-keeper, Sreejesh, the script could well have been different.

Manpreet Singh and his boys need to avoid their usual failing in defending a lead in the last quarter, since tougher opponents like Australia, Argentina, Spain and hosts Japan await ahead in the group.

The lone judoka from the country, Sushila Devi, exited from the women's 48 kg losing to her Hungarian rival while the rowers, Arjun Lal and Arvind Singh, finished fifth in the men's lightweight double skulls but reached the repechage round to keep alive a glimmer of hope.

In table tennis, the mixed pair of Achanta Sarath Kamal and Manika Batra were unlucky to be pitted against the third seeded pair from Chinese Taipei and went down in straight games. Manika and compatriot Sutirtha Mukherjee, however, did well to cross the first hurdle in the singles draw by defeating their British and Swedish rivals respectively.

Sumit Nagal, a last-minute entrant in the tennis draw, won his singles match against the reigning Asian Games champion, Denis Istomin from Uzbekistan.

In a nutshell, a mixed bag by end of day two. If only the shooters had found their targets, the story would have been so different!

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