After five days of fruitless labour, hopes of India turning a corner and marching towards a medal on day six of the Rio Olympics were dashed when women archers Deepika Kumari and Laishram Bombayla Devi bowed out after being found wanting in pressure-cooker atmosphere on Thursday.
There was disappointment in badminton as well when the seasoned Indian women’s doubles combine of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa also came a cropper against a top class Japanese pair, but in a round-robin league, which kept them still in the hunt.
However, it was curtains for the archery duo of Deepika, the young exponent from Jharkhand who was in her second Games, and third-time Olympian Bombayla, who bowed out without putting up much of a fight in their pre-quarterfinal elimination matches.
Deepika was up against World No 2 Tan Ya-Ting of Chinese Taipei, and was blanked 6-0 - losing in straight sets - while Bombayla lost 2-6 to World No 18 Alejandra Valencia of Mexico, after winning the second set.
Both the archers were guilty of letting their nerves get the better of them.
Deepika was the first to take aim and failed to raise her game when it mattered, losing 27-28, 26-29, 27-30 in a lopsided contest, during which she managed to hit the bull’s eye only once.
The former World No 1 was put under pressure by Ya-Ting from the very start and never really managed to threaten her more fancied opponent.
While Deepika seemed out of sorts in the high-pressure match, Ya-Ting was a picture of composure, calmly striking 6 perfect 10s -- three of them back-to-back in the third set.
Bombayla also endured a disastrous outing which began with a 7 off the first arrow. In the 26-28, 26-23, 27-28, 23-25 loss, Bombayla was also found wanting in handling pressure.
After losing the third set narrowly, the Indian just could not gather herself, striking a 6 off the first arrow in the fourth set, which ultimately proved to be her undoing.
The slender hopes in archery now rests on the little fancied Atanu Das, who is in the pre-quarterfinals of the men’s event and will be in action on Friday.