With just the final weekend to go for the Rio Olympics, we’ve reached the end of perhaps the most exciting fortnight of the sporting calendar. Plenty of blurry early mornings for Indian viewers later (the finals are Rio night events, which means 5 AM onwards for Indians), day 14, 15 and 16 are left, with USA easily topping the medal table once again, and Great Britain ahead of China in second position (22 to 20 golds).
Side by side, we’ve seen the beginning of the English Premier League, the culmination of two cricket Test series and the commencement of the ATP Tennis Masters’ calendar (the Cincinnati Masters).
First things first…
INDIA AT THE OLYMPICS
PV Sindhu, India’s only remaining Badminton player from either side in the draw, will play her Singles Final against World No. 1 Carolina Marin at 7 PM IST today (August 19th). She stormed through her semifinal with Nozomi Okuhara, defeating her in straight sets, and is now assured of at least a silver medal. The whole nation, though, wants a gold now, and they can smell it, given Sindhu’s fantastic aggressive performances through the week. Marin isn’t a bridge too far. This will be India’s second medal of the Games, in quick succession after Sakshi Malik’s wrestling bronze medal attained through the repechage rounds.
On the men’s side, Srikanth Kidambi reached the quarterfinals, going down to Olympic Champion and best player of this era Lin Dan in a brave 3-set effort, while an injured Saina Nehwal crashed out in her first match.
18-year-old golfer Aditi Ashok is tied 7th with four others after the second round of the Women’s golfing event – just three shots off the lead after firing two consecutive three-under 68s in the first two rounds. She will start her third round at 4 PM IST today (August 19th), hoping to secure India’s third medal in consecutive days, and first-ever golfing medal in Olympic history.
REST OF THE WORLD
The rest of the world is actually Usain Bolt. He is the universe. After storming through to his 7th gold with his 100m victory over Justin Gatlin, he dominated a Gatlin-less field in the 200m – his favorite distance – to win his 8th gold medal in his last individual Olympic race of his career. This is a feat that might never ever be paralleled – winning both 100m and 200m, the most competitive races in track and field, consecutively over three Olympics eight years apart. He has a chance to make it a perfect 9, with the 4x100m relay final early on Saturday morning at 7 AM IST. That will complete a remarkably frightening career, which will lead this generation to feel like one of the luckiest ever after witnessing two modern-day Gods in Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt.
In field hockey, favorites Germany were eliminated in the semis by eventual gold medalists Argentina. Germany settled for bronze with a victory over Netherlands, while Argentina defeated Belgium 4-2 in the finals, after Belgium had eliminated India in a virtual quarterfinal match after being 1-0 down.
Hosts Brazil, led by Neymar, will face World Champions Germany in the final of the football event late on Saturday evening (Sunday 2 AM IST), after destroying Honduras 6-0 in the semifinals. Brazil will want to improve upon their heartbreak in 2012, where they lost to Mexico in the finals.
Jose Mourinho-led Manchester United, after getting off to a winning start, will play their first home game of the season when they host Southampton on Friday night. United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City won their opening games, while Arsenal lost 3-4 to Liverpool in a thriller of a game at the Emirates Stadium last weekend.
India is now ranked No. 1 in Test cricket again, after Australia were whitewashed 3-0 by Sri Lanka. Pakistan held for 2-2 against England, keeping them at No. 2. But India will have to win their final Test against West Indies to maintain their ranking, otherwise Pakistan will be ranked 1 for the first time in Test history.