NEW DELHI: On India's busiest day at the Rio Olympics so far, the team of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna made it to the semi-finals of the mixed doubles tennis event while boxer Vikas Krishan entered the quarter-finals in men's middleweight (75 kg) category. The men's hockey team played out a 2-2 draw against Canada while other individual participants exited the Games.
Argentina's win over Ireland meant that India will now face Belgium in the quarter-finals. A win would have marked the first time in 32 years that an Indian hockey team clinched three pool matches, as well as assure this unit third place in Pool B, but the Canadians - in their last game of the Rio Games - showed they weren't there to be bossed.
Later in the day, Sania and Bopanna got the better of Great Britain's Andy Murray and Heather Watson in straight sets displaying remarkable bit of doubles tennis to which the British duo had no answer. The fourth seeded Indian pair dominated, winning the quarter-final match 6-4, 6-4 in just 67 minutes. One more victory will ensure India a silver medal and a defeat in the semifinals would give Sania and Bopanna a chance to fight for the bronze.
Minutes after India tasted victory in tennis, boxer Vikas Krishan put on another dominant performance this time in his round of 16 clash against Turkey's Onder Sipal. Vikas was at his aggressive best and entered in to the quarter-finals winning all three rounds.
On a downer, there was disappointing news in archery, shooting and the athletics field as archer Atanu Das, badminton players Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, runner Jinson Johnson, shot-putter Manpreet Kaur and discus thrower Vikas Gowda exited the games and Gagang Narang and Chain Singh failed to qualify for the final of the men's 50m rifle prone event.
India's track and field events had nothing positive to show either. Sprinter Dutee Chand and Muhammed Anas Yahiya, and long jumper Ankit Sharma failed to go past their heats/qualifying match. While Dutee and Anas finished seventh and sixth respectively (50th and 31st overall) in their individual heats, Sharma committed consecutive fouls in his first two attempts before recording a jump pf 7.67 m. However, it was never going to be enough as the top 12 were to advance. Sharma eventually finished 24th.
Of all India's events today, the hockey match was the most engaging (though Atanu had a few gasp-inducing shots of brilliance).
India got their first goal when Akashdeep Singh scored off a rebound in the 33rd minute but seconds later Canadian captain Scott Tuper equalise with a converted penalty corner. Not long after, Canada got the ball into the net but India's referral confirmed the shot was off the body, and then in the 41st minute Ramandeep Singh made it 2-1 when he tapped in a slap from VR Raghunath. Another Tupper goal with less than eight minutes remaining on the clock made it 2-2, and the Canadians rallied to ensure the scores were still leveled when the buzzer rang.
At the Sambodromo, India's lone male archer in Rio, Atanu, was beaten 6-4 by Korea's Lee Seungyun in the pre-quarters to exit his maiden Olympic Games. The Korean won the first set, lost the second, and then the third was tied. Das lost the fourth set 27-28, and a tied fifth set gave Seungyun the match on aggregate. Das, 24, had already gone further than any Indian man since 2004 in entering the Last 16 three days ago when he won his first two matches in style.
In the men's 50m rifle prone qualification at the Olympic Shooting Centre, Narang and Chain Singh were eliminated with final positions of 13th and 36th respectively. Narang, who fared poorly in his first event of the Games, was briefly at third place but slipped back and then, needing to finish in the top eight to make the final, he shot 102.4 in the sixth and final series to slip out of the top ten. Overall, Narang shot a total of 623.1 and Chain Singh finished with 619.6. The man who topped the qualifying round, Russia's Sergey Kaminsky, finished with an Olympic record total of 629.
At the end of day one of the men's skeet qualification, shooter Mairaj Ahmed Khan was at tenth place after rounds of 24, 25 and 7. On his Olympics debut, Gurpreet Singh started off strongly in the men's 25m rapid fire pistol with shots of 100 and 99 to occupy first and then second place, but a lowly 90 saw him drop to fourth and then 11th after Stage 1.
In his men's single sculls semi-final bracket, rower Dattu Baban Bhokanal finished second after briefly leading. He had already been ruled out of medal contention but will contest Final C on Saturday at 18:20 IST.
At the Riocentro, shuttlers Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa lost their second match in a row, this one to the Dutch pair of Selena Piek and Eefje Muskens in 58 minutes. Gutta and Ponnappa squandered a lead of 7-4 to lose the first game 16-21 in 19 minutes, then hit back 21-16 with a series of fierce smashes towards the end of another 19-minutes game that led Piek and Muskens floundering. However, they slipped up in the third to lose 17-21 in 20 minutes.
A few hours later, the men's doubles pair of Sumeeth Reddy and Manu Atri lost to China's Biao Chai and Hai Wong 13-21, 15-21.
Seven Indians started their campaign on day one of the athletics events, and the news was not encouraging. In the women's shot put qualification, Manpreet Kaur finished 13th out of 18 with attempts of 16.68m, 17.06m and 16.76m - overall, a fair distance short of the qualifying mark of 18.40. In the men's discus throw qualification, where the top two progress with throws over 65.50m, Vikas Gowda managed 56.57m, 58.99 and 58.70 to finish 16th in Group B and 28th overall, out of 34 competitors.
In Heat 3 of the men's 800m, Jinson Johnson clocked 1:47.27 to finish fifth and was eliminated.
In the men's 20km race walk, Manish Singh Rawat came in a credible 13th but Ganapathi Krishnan and Gurmeet Singh were disqualified.
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