Indians had something to celebrate on Day 1 of the Tokyo Olympics with weightlifter Mirabai Chanu opening the country’s medal tally with a silver medal in the women’s 49kg category on Saturday, July 24.
It was a mixed bag for Indians on the day with the shooters, including medal hope Saurabh Chaudhary, and archers falling short, the women’s hockey team getting thrashed by the Netherlands, while the men’s team opened the campaign with a win over New Zealand.
Mirabai Chanu Silver
Mirabai Chanu ended India's 21-year wait for a weightlifting medal at the Olympics by clinching silver.
The 26-year-old lifted a total of 202kg (87kg+115kg) to better Karnam Malleswari's bronze in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. With this, she exorcised the ghosts of the 2016 Games where she had failed to log a single legitimate lift.
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The gold went to China's Hou Zhihui with an effort of 210kg (94kg+116kg) , while Aisah Windy Cantika of Indonesia took home the bronze with an effort of 194kg (84kg+110kg)
Women’s Hockey Team Drubbed
The Indian women's hockey team fought valiantly in the first two quarters before losing steam to go down 1-5 against World No. 1 The Netherlands in their opening pool match.
Felice Albers (6th, 43rd) scored a brace for Netherlands, while Margot van Geffen (33rd minute), Frederique Matla (45th) and Caia Jacqueline van Maasakker (52nd) were the other goal getters for the three-time champions and reigning Olympic silver medallist. India's lone goal was scored by skipper Rani Rampal in the 10th minute.
It was a closely-contested affair till the first two quarters with the brave Indian defence, led by goalkeeper Savita Punia, showing tenacity to thwart Netherlands' persistent raids. The Indians too showed spark in between and mostly relied on counter attacks to surprise their opponents.
Chirag-Satwik Shine, Praneeth Out
Indian men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty beat the World No. 3 pair of Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang of Chinese Taipei in a group A match to make a superb start to their maiden Olympic campaign.
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Chirag and Satwik, World No. 10, notched up a stunning 21-16, 16-21, 27-25 win over third seeds Lee and Wang, who had claimed back-to-back titles at the Yonex Thailand Open, Toyota Thailand Open and BWF World Tour Finals earlier this year.
However, 13th seeded B Sai Praneeth suffered a 17-21, 15-21 loss to World No. 47 Misha Zilberman of Israel in a 41-minute men's singles Group D match.
Vikas Krishan (69kg) was out-punched 0-5 by local favourite Sewonrets Quincy Mensah Okazawa in the opening round. The 29-year-old Krishan sustained a cut below his left eye in the clash, which, according to team sources, he entered with a shoulder niggle.
Okazawa dominated from start to finish, and was like a nimble-footed dancer in the ring, controlling the proceedings with utmost ease against the two-time Olympian. The 25-year-old Okazawa is of Ghanaian descent and was a silver-medallist at the 2019 Asian championships and a quarterfinalist at the world championships the same year.
He will next face Cuba's third-seeded Roniel Iglesias in the Round of 16. Iglesias is the 2012 Olympic gold-medallist and also a former world champion.
Nagal Defeats Istomin
Sumit Nagal progressed into the second round of the men's singles, outclassing Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 in the men's singles first round.
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The first set between Nagal and Istomin was a closely fought affair and neither one of them was giving an inch. However, Nagal was able to break the Uzbek’s serve and he took the set 6-4.
The 23-year-old carried on with his momentum in the second set, and he upped his game a notch, not giving Istomin an inch.
Saurabh Finishes 7th
World No. 2 Saurabh Chaudhary paid the price for a slow start in the final and ended up seventh in the men's 10m air pistol event. He had earlier topped the qualification round with 586 from 60 shots. The young Indian shooter settled for a total score of 137.4 in the final.
In what was then effectively a shoot-out for sixth place, Saurabh shot 10.6 and 9.8 to end with a score of 137.4. However, his competitor Bowen Zhang of China took his total to 137.7, which pushed Saurabh Chaudhary to a seventh-place finish.
Earlier, Saurabh Chaudhary led the charts early at the Asaka Shooting Range, consistently hitting 10s before a few 9s dropped him back after the first series of 10 shots.
Saurabh then put up a much-improved showing shooting 98 each in the second and third series to firmly establish himself in the top eight. The young Indian shooter then shot a perfect 100 in the fourth series and finished with a 98 and 97
Deepika-Jadhav Fall in Quarters
Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav lost their quarterfinal clash of the archery mixed team event against South Korea's An San and Kim Je Deok. The Koreans defeated the Indian pair 6-2.
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An San and Kim Je Deok displayed their A-game in the first two sets, giving no respite to the Indian pair.
However, Deepika and Pravin staged a comeback in the third set, and they brought the scoreline to 4-2. In the fourth set, Deepika and Jadhav scored 33, but An San and Deok scored a total of 36, and sealed the victory.
Kamal-Manika Bow Out
India's glimmer of hope for a table tennis medal at the Tokyo Olympics vanished in no time with Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra losing to third seeds Lin Yun-Ju and Cheng I-Ching of Chinese Taipei in the mixed doubles Round of 16.
The Indians had to make all chances count against a superior opponent but they couldn't do so after leading 5-1 and 5-3 in the first two games. In the end, it was a comfortable 11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 win for the Chinese Taipei pair.
Batra, meanwhile, beat Britain’s Tin-Tin Ho 11-7, 11-6, 12-10, and 11-9. In an easy win in her singles match. She will face Ukraine’s Margaryta’s Pesotska in the second round on Sunday.
Harmanpreet Singh scored a brace and veteran goalkeeper PR Sreejesh stood like a wall in the closing minutes as the Indian men's hockey team overcame a late surge from New Zealand to eke out a close 3-2 win in its opening match.
Harmanpreet (26th and 33rd minutes) scored a double for India, while Rupinder Pal Singh (10th) was the other goal-getter for the eight-time former champions, currently ranked fourth in the world, in the Pool A match at the Oi hockey stadium.
For the eighth-ranked New Zealand, Kane Russell scored from a penalty corner in the sixth minute before Stephen Jenness (43rd minute) reduced the margin of defeat later in the match.
India will next play Australia on Sunday.
Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela failed to progress to the 10m air rifle final.
The rowing pair of Arvind Singh and Arjun Lal Jat qualified for the repechage round after finishing fifth in the men’s lightweight double sculls heat.
Judoka Sushila Devi’s challenge came to an early end in round of 32.
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