As we roll into the fourth official day of the 2016 Summer Olympics, with both USA and China on five gold medals each (yawn), let’s look back at a collection of all of the Indian team contingent’s early hits, moments, upsets, shocks and controversies of the first three days – which could make for quite a collection on its own.
BANG BANG YOU SHOT ME DOWN
Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual gold medalist ever, came heartbreakingly close to adding another medal in his last Olympics here. He qualified for his third Olympic final after fighting back from a flimsy first few shots, and then finished fourth in the final, missing out on a bronze in the 10m air rifle after compatriot Gagan Narang finished 23rd and failed to qualify for the same final. This will be the last time Bindra, arguably India’s finest ever competitive shooter, will play in competition.
Jitu Rai, India’s other shooting hope, finished last in the final of the 10m air pistol event. He is one of the favorites in his pet event, the 50m air pistol though on Wednesday, which now remains India’s best medal hope.
43-year-old Indian tennis legend Leander Paes, in his record seventh Olympics for India, crashed out of the first round with Rohan Bopanna in the Men’s Doubles after sharing an acrimonious first week with the younger partner on the eve of their event. They lost to Poland’s Lucas Kubot and Matkowski, thus ending Paes’ hopes of ever adding to his individual bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Sania Mirza, the World No. 1-ranked women’s doubles player, lost in her first round too, with inexperienced partner Prarthana Thombare, losing to the Chinese pair. Her only medal hope now is with Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles event.
The Indian Men’s hockey team lost 1-2 in a last-gasp brave attempt against Olympic champions Germany after winning their first game against Ireland. But the Indian women’s hockey team were dismantled by Great Britain 0-3 in their second game after drawing with Japan.
The Indian women’s archery team comprising of Deepika Kumari, Laxmirani Majhi and Bombayla Devi lost in the quarterfinals to Russia, finishing seventh in the standings, with Korea again winning the gold medal. They made a storming comeback in the match after losing the first two sets, taking it to a shootout, but it wasn’t enough. Majhi, meanwhile, lost in her first round of individual qualification by 7-1 to Slovakia, ending her first Olympic outing.
Indian gymnast Dipa Karmakar made the vault finals in eighth position, after finishing 77th, 75th and 65th respectively in the uneven bars, floor exercise and beam events. The Tripura native, who has been consistent for the last few years on the world stage (finishing fourth in the Asian Games despite a hairline fracture), finished on 14.850 to qualify after landing during the execution of the deadly ‘Produnova’ (difficulty of 7.0). Only five gymnasts have tried it since 1999 – it’s that risky – since the Russian Yelena Produnova first showed it to the world. Dipa almost landed on her backside, but just about managed to stand up soon after, allowing her to squeeze in to the final standings. It’s only a matter of time before a film is made about Karmakar, who has inspired many athletes with her achievements in these Olympics alone.
Heena Sidhu is yet to compete in the 10m air pistol events, and the wrestling (Yogeshwar Dutt, Narsingh Yadav), boxing and badminton events are yet to commence.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic exited the arena in tears after losing his first round match to comeback kid Juan Martin Del Potro. Both embraced at the net after two tiebreaks, and the Serbian, who was hoping to win an Olympic gold, will perhaps never finish with one – after crashing out of the doubles event soon after. He will next play the US Open straight.
Michael Phelps won his 19th gold medal after being part of the Men’s 4×100 relay freestyle winning team, pipping France to the finish after taking the lead in his second leg. He made the 200m fly final after qualifying second ahead of South African rival Chad le Clos, and the showdown on Tuesday is billed to be the biggest of the pool this year. Phelps has never lost an Olympic final in this event.
Brit youngster Adam Peaty broke his own world record twice in the 100m breast stroke, in the heats and then in the final, confirming his permanent arrival as one of the greats on the world stage.
American wunderkind Katie Ledecky won her first of three individual freestyle events by breaking her own world record in the 200m freestyle final. As expected.
US swimmer Lilly King won a Monday night grudge match against controversial Russian world champion swimmer Yulia Efimova in the 100m breast stoke finals – after wagging her finger in the semifinal at ‘drug cheat’ Efimova, who was mysteriously cleared to swim in the event despite being banned for meldonium doping earlier this year.
The Williams Sisters lost their first-ever Olympic match, crashing out in the first round, and the Murray brothers followed suit soon after. As of now, Serena Williams is still on course to win her gold medal, as is Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, who now face a Novak-less path to glory.