Action began on a positive note for India at the Oi Hockey Stadium, where the men’s side banished the thrashing from Australia with a 3-0 win over Spain. That was followed by a brilliant Olympic debut by Lovlina Borgohain in the boxing ring.
The highs were few though for India on Tuesday, July 27. Here is a round-up of India news from Day 4 of the Tokyo Games.
Borgohain in Quarters
Watching a boxer like Lovlina Borgohain in the ring has to get you up out of a chair and dancing. Ducking and weaving, a little. Shuffling at the very least. At 178 cm, she has a frame and feet that look like they were custom-tailored in Cuba. With a bye through the first round, this was her first fight at an Olympics.
And she started, understandably, not according to plan. Looking to force the early momentum, played right to her opponent's strength and was at the receiving end of a couple of stiff connections to the head by the experienced German Nadine Apetz. By the time her head cleared, it was already the last minute of Round 1 and looking bad.
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Then, all of a sudden, the switch flipped on. Her mind seemed to go back to the plan and the plan was a joy to watch. With the first round clearly lost, she had to make sure the next two were on point. And it was an encouraging exhibition against a quality opponent.
The 23-year-old’s advantages over most of the field in the welterweight (69kg) category are her quick feet, mobility around the ring and at least a couple of inches of extra reach. Which means the plan is simple -- dance around the ring and frustrate your opponent on the outside (but sneak in a couple of points) and tie up the minute she tries to get inside. The more the opponent throws air punches, the more chances Borgohain has to use the extra reach and score points.
Her weakness is head movement, so the feet are even more important. For two rounds and one minute she stuck to the program and got the result. Sure, you might argue that a different set of judges might have tilted 3:2 the other way. But I think they judged the difference between the two boxers on what she might add to the competition going forward, and on that there was no doubt.
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Her next opponent, from Chinese Taipei, is Nien-Chin Chan. She is a strong boxer who likes to dominate the ring. It’s the perfect match-up of opposing styles and I believe one she will see through based on the evidence of today. It’ll be tough. But they have three days to prepare. I hope the coaches show her some love, make sure she gets to breathe a bit and, most importantly, remember the best part about the whole damn plan-that she always ends up getting hit a little less than the other guy.
Tough Going for Doubles Pair
Chirag Shetty and Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy registered a pretty straightforward, and wholly meaningless, win over the GBR men’s badminton pair of Ben Lane and Sean Vendy.
B Sai Praneeth will have to go through the motions tomorrow in his last Group A game with Mark Caljouw of the Netherlands. Even if Praneeth wins in straight games, Misha Zilberman of Israel will go through to the elimination round.
With no representation in the women’s or mixed doubles, all the pressure is on PV Sindhu. Fortunately, her form and seeding indicate a reasonably clear run to the quarters where she is likely to come up with familiar adversary Akane Yamaguchi of Japan. Sindhu’s results notwithstanding -- she is clearly among the best in the world -- things don’t look good for one of the most-touted myths in Indian sport: The Badminton Model.
Men’s team Bounces Back
I was told by the experts, no less, that Spain offered nothing in their group match with India this morning. But I think they’re being killjoys.
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First, of course it was a pleasant change from how Australia turned out. Second, because it came hot on the heels of a very good outing for the women against Germany that they really should’ve gotten something out of. Third, because hope springs eternal.
When, if not now, in this most desperate of demonstrations to sell people exactly that idea. Australia is done. The 3-0 win over Spain Tuesday means the side has two very decent wins in the bag and the chance to work at the tournament ahead with Japan and Argentina to come. If India can do well playing a decidedly European style, we should have lots to talk about.
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TENNIS CAMPAIGN ENDS
By PTI and Newsclick Sports
The Indian tennis team's outing officially ended with Sania Mirza and Sumit Nagal failing to make the cut for the mixed doubles event due to their low combined ranking of 153.
The entries were to be finalised on Tuesday morning and the cut was expected to be between 50-60. The Indians did not even have faint hopes of getting into the easiest of tennis events at the Games. Only 16 teams play the mixed doubles event and winning just two matches gets a team in the medal round.
SHARATH BOWS OUT
Achanta Sharath Kamal took a game off the legendary Ma Long, the reigning Olympic and world champion, before making a third round exit from the table tennis competition.
Sharath fought valiantly to take the second game from Long but eventually lost 7-11, 11-8, 11-13, 4-11, 4-11 in 46 minutes. With the defeat, India's challenge has ended in table tennis at the Games. Manika Batra, Sutirtha Mukherjee and G Sathiyan have all exited the singles competition.
The Indian pair of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker caved in under pressure and failed to qualify for the final of the 10m air pistol mixed team event..
The duo finished seventh in Qualification 2 after topping the first phase with 582 at the Asaka Range. They lost the plot completely when the top eight teams battled it out in the second phase. The duo totalled 380 across two series each in the second phase of the qualification.
The other Indian team in the event, Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Singh Deswal, failed to clear Qualification 1 and finished in 17th place with a total of 564 across six series (three each for one member).