Mary Kom's winning start and Manika Batra's brilliant come-from-behind victory were the only bright spots in an otherwise gloomy day for India at Tokyo, observes Raj Kishore Mishra.
Mary Kom's winning start in boxing (51 kg) and paddler, Manika Batra's brilliant come-from-behind victory over her 20th ranked Ukrainian rival were the only bright spots in an otherwise gloomy day for India at Tokyo.
In an exciting bout against the younger Miguelina Hernandez Garcia from the Dominican Republic, the 38-year-old veteran won on points to keep alive her hopes for another Olympic medal.
While P V Sindhu's victory over lower ranked Ksenia Polikarpova from Israel was never in doubt, in a heart-warming performance, Manika came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 4-3 in a pulsating battle.
The shooters, however, continued to pile on the agony with yet another lacklustre performance.
Manu Bhaker and Yashaswin Singh Deswal who between them have had more than a dozen international medals, including in World Cups, couldn't reach the finals in the 10m Air Pistol competition.
Similarly, young sensation Divyansh Singh Parmar and Deepak Kumar did little justice to their world rankings by failing to make the cut for the final eight in the 10 m Air Rifle event.
Of the two skeet shooters, Angad Vir Singh and Mairaj Khan who took to the range, the former is hanging in by a thread at close of day one. He is placed 11th with only a point behind the top six and has to pull out a rabbit from the hat on Monday in order to sneak in to the finals.
The rowers, Arjun Lal and Arvind Singh dished out a gritty performance in the repechage round to finish third and progress to the semi-finals on the 27th. No hope for a medal there, but a creditable performance nonetheless.
Elsewhere, it was a story of heartbreak. In tennis, Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina raised hopes of an upset victory by winning the opening set against their Ukrainian opponents 6-0, but failed to sustain the momentum losing the next two 6-7 and 8-10.
Paddler G.Sathiyan's was a similar story. The higher ranked Indian squandered away a 3-1 lead to go down to his rival from Hongkong 4-3.
Boxer Manish Kaushik failed to add to the cheers brought in by Mary Kom by going down to his opponent from Great Britain tamely in the flyweight category.
Gymnast Pranati Nayak tried her best in all round artistic gymnastics but failed to make an impression in a classy field and bowed out without reaching the finals.
To round up a dismal day, in hockey the men in blue went down to to the formidable Aussies by a tennis like score of 7-1. The latter were as precise as the former profligate.
After conceding a 4-0 lead by the half time, it was too much for the boys to come back, although there was no lack of perseverance on their part.
These are ominous signs, indeed, for the campaign ahead!