Women shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu were the only bright spots in yet another disappointing day at the Rio Olympics as India’s campaign continued to be haunted by setbacks in archery, boxing and hockey on the fifth day of competitions here today.
London Games bronze winner Saina Nehwal and two-time World Championship bronze medallist P V Sindhu made a resounding start to their badminton campaign but it was the end of roads for Indian archers Deepika Kumari and L Bombayla Devi and boxer Shiva Thapa.
Former World No. 1 Saina staved off a spirited challenge from World No. 73 Brazilian Vicente Lohaynny 21-17 21-17 in a women’s singles match which lasted 39 minutes at the Riocentro here.
The World Championship silver medallist Indian will next take on World No. 61 Maria Ulitina of Ukraine in a Group G match on August 14.
The 26-year-old from Hyderabad took 20 minutes to pocket the opening game before sealing the issue by wrapping up the second game in 19 minutes.
Ninth seed Sindhu, a two-time World Championship bronze medal winner, too had a good day in office as she spanked World No. 64 Laura Sarosi of Hungary 21-8 21-9 in a Group M women’s singles match that lasted for 27 minutes.
She will play against Glasgow Commonwealth Games champion Li Michelle of Canada on August 14 to complete the preliminary group engagements.
Sindhu did not break any sweat against her World No. 64 rival as she took 13 and 14 minutes to wrap up the first and second games.
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“I was not under any pressure. I was very excited about my first match. Proved to be an easy match. But I didn’t take it easily. I was trying out my strokes. The crowd really supported me. Hope to perform in the same way on 14th (her next match),” Sindhu said.
On her next opponent Michelle Wi, Sindhu said: “She is slightly tough. We have two more days. Will get well prepared for that. One more match to go. Taking it match by match.”
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, however, lost their women’s doubles league opener by losing 15-21 10-21 to the World No.1 Japanese pair of Ayaka Takahashi and Misaki Matsumoto in Group A.
Men’s doubles duo of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy lost 18-21 13-21 to World No.2 Indonesian duo of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan to make it a mixed opening day in badminton.
There were more setbacks on day 6 of competitions in archery, boxing and men’s hockey to dampen the Indian spirits.