Rio de Janeiro: Four Indian women stood out shining like stars with different sparkle in an otherwise slapdash show by the Indian contingent at the 31st Games of the Olympiad that came to an end here on Sunday.
Badminton exponent PV Sindhu was the brightest star with a silver medal around her neck and wrestler Sakshi Malik will be remembered as the one who help break India’s medal jinx at Rio more than 10 days after the competition began.
Those 12 days were an excruciating wait for the Indian fans as from shooters to archers and hockey team to boxers, all failed to deliver.
The Haryana girl Sakshi became the instant hit after she wrested the first medal for India, a bronze that earned her the honour to carry India’s flag at the Closing Ceremony.
Gymnast Dipa Karmakar, who made it to the vault final, and distance runner Lalita Babar, who became the only Indian athlete after PT Usha to make it to the athletics track final in Olympics, were the others who underlined women power that has been steadily gaining prominence over the years.
Satara girl Lalita did her career best in 3000m steeplechase and finished 10th and bettering her national record by three seconds.
The talk of touching double digits in medal haul went in fumes when first archers and then shooters made sorry exits with only two-Abhinav Bindra and Jitu Rai-reached the finals of their respective events. That Bindra finished fourth and Jitu eighth was no consolation as much was expected from 12-member strong shooting team.
Jitu was expected to win a medal in one of the two events he took part but he ended up eighth in 10m air pistol final after playing brilliantly throughout the qualifying round. He then crashed out of his pet event 50m air pistol, perhaps misjudging the wind in the last few shots.
Gurmeet Singh showed a bit of spirit in the 25m rapid fire pistol event, but eventually was left behind. Mairaj Ahmad Khan ended ninth in men’s skeet event after missing three shots in the final round in a shoot-out. In the rarefied atmosphere of medal contenders, mistakes are not tolerated.
Aditi Ashok was yet another heart break as she showed a rare patch of brilliance in the first two days of golf, only to end up 41st on the final day.
Indian boxers too crashed out of Olympics with Vikas Krishan taking a major pound from his Uzbek opponent in the 75kg bout. Shiva Thapa and Manoj Kumar too disappointed.
To add to misery, Indian contingent had to face the ignominy of one of its member being disqualified from Olympics after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) went on appeal against National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA)’s clean chit to Narsingh Yadav.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) sitting in Rio slapped a four-year ban on Narsingh a day before his scheduled bout, overlooking the “conspiracy angle” in the doping test failure.
Indian athletes aspired to reach Olympics height, but they ended up falling short. On the last day of the greatest sporting show on Earth, India’s Yogeshwar Dutt lost out tamely to his Mongolian rival in the 65-kg freestyle wrestling.
India’s performance hence calls for a lot of soul-searching on why Rio Olympics was a practical failure for a country of more than a billion people. Tokyo is only four years away and unless the preparations begin now, brace for the same story to unfold in 2020.
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