Rio 2016 Olympics: Indian hopes at the Olympic Games got shattered on the first day with a series of failures from the players medals were expected from for sure. But hope still floats as there are many more events left that the various Indian sporting teams are participating in. Some respite came in form of the Men’s hockey team which managed to edge out Ireland 3-2. However, India was stretched and the match may well have ended in a draw. Among the high profile players who lost on day 1 were shooters Jitu Rai, Apurvi Chandela, Ayonika Paul – a better show from them could have led to India landing a medal on the first day of the event itself.
Some scintillating play is expected on Day 2. Among those taking to the field are the Indian women’s hockey team, which is making a comeback to the Olympics after 36 long years – they take on Japan in their first match. Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi will aim for qualification and eventually the final in the archery competition. Leaving behind first day’s shooting failures, Heena Sidhu will strive for a medal in women’s 10m Air pistol event. On the other hand, Olympian Manavjit Singh Sandhu and rising star Kynan Chenai is all set to participate in the men’s trap event. In another historic development, India’s first woman athlete Dipa Karmakar will start her Olympic medal quest.
What has really hurt the Indian campaign is the loss by some really high profile players. These players were virtually guaranteed to bring laurels to their country, but they just could not hold their game together and lost to some unheralded opponents – in fact they lost quite badly. From acclimitisation issues to politics, many things are being blamed for failures. Among them are Leander Paes, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. With the second day being as important as the first, here is wishing the Indian contingent well.
Field Hockey (Women): India vs Japan (19:30 hrs IST)
A lot rides on the Indian women’s team, which is being led by Sushila Chanu. It is the Indian team’s first appearance for 36 years and the responsibility of keeping the Indian flag flying rests on their shoulders despite having to face a much higher ranked Japanese team. Only a spirited attacking game is likely to get the team anywhere near victory as the faster and tactically superior Japanese girls will look to dominate the game from the word go.
Archery – Women’s Team (Elimination & Finals) (17:30 hrs IST & 01:09 hrs IST)
They have acquired a reputation for excellence, but Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi will have to deal with some unfamiliar conditions and top ranked opponents to be able to power their way ahead. They have to make each shot count, and focussing on the task at hand would be key to getting into the winning way. Nevertheless, they are a fancied lot and barring a meltdown should do well.
Gymnastics (Women) (23:00 hrs IST)
This is an event where it is more about participation than actually winning for India. The fact that India is even marking a presence here is laudable. Now, the Indian gymnasts have to make sure they are able to maintain their form and at least ensure they achieve and surpass their best performances at least. Among the events to be held today are women’s uneven bars, women’s floor exercises, women’s beam, women’s vault and women’s individual all-round. All Indian eyes will be on Dipa Karmakar as she sets her campaign into motion to further qualify and increase her medal hopes.
Shooting – Women: 10 m Air Pistol (Qualification & Finals) (17:30 hrs IST & 19:30 hrs IST)
Nothing but shooting a gold medal down will be acceptable here! All right, all right, any medal will do as long as it is a medal. And best placed to deliver this will be former world No. 1 and current record holder Heena Sidhu. Hopefully, she will not let the disappointment four years ago in London play on her mind. This is all about focus and nothing else.
Trap Qualification: Men (18:00 hrs IST)
One of India’s most experienced Olympians, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, attending his fourth consecutive Olympic Games, is another high profile shooter who is expected to go very high in the competition. A finals appearance would really be a crowning experience for this athlete who has given so much for his country over the years. Another Indian in the mix will be dark horse Kynan Chenai.