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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

From shooters to wrestlers: Report card of Indian athletes at Rio Olympics

We analyse the performances of our athletes against pre-Games expectations for Rio Olympics; and what needs to be done to improve the state.

olympics Updated: Aug 23, 2016 21:18 IST
Gaurav Bhatt
Gaurav Bhatt
Hindustan Times
Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu and her coach P Gopichand take part in a parade after arriving home from the Rio Olympics in Hyderabad.
Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu and her coach P Gopichand take part in a parade after arriving home from the Rio Olympics in Hyderabad.(AFP Photo)

We analyse the performances of our athletes against pre-Games expectations for Rio Olympics; and what needs to be done to improve the state.



Indian shuttlers hadn’t had the best of build-ups, with inconsistent performances and injuries troubling the contingent. But Saina Nehwal’s historic bronze from four years ago meant expectations remained high. PV Sindhu and K Srikanth had faltered at major tournaments, but had the game to trump the best.


India’s challenge began on a poor note, with both doubles pair bowing out in the first round. Nehwal’s early exit made matters worse, before Srikanth and Sindhu’s campaigns gained momentum. Srikanth put on a valiant effort against world No 2 Lin Dan but failed to make the semifinal. Sindhu, however, went on to become the first Indian woman to win a silver medal.

Pullela Gopichand, chief coach Indian badminton team, K Srikanth and PV Sindhu at the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. (PTI File Photo)



Indian boxing body’s ban had led to fewer boxers qualifying and the presence of professional boxers was set to make the challenge tougher.

Read | Two less for comfort: Rio shows all that’s wrong with Indian sports system


While Shiva Thapa lost in the first round of the bantamweight competition, Manoj Kumar and Vikas Krishan fared slightly better, with the latter reaching the middleweight quarterfinals, losing to the eventual silver-medallist Bektemir Melikuziev of Uzbekistan.

Combination image of boxers Vikas Krishan (top) and Manoj Kumar. Both made it to the quarterfinals in Rio Olympics. (Agencies)



Indian shooters were the strongest medal prospects thanks to past Olympic successes. Presence of India’s only individual gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and World Cup medallist Jitu Rai bolstered chances.


There was disappointment all around as shooters failed to qualify for most of the finals. Jitu made the 10m air pistol final but was the first to be eliminated. Bindra reached the 10m air rifle final but narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing fourth.

Jitu Rai (top) and Abhinav Bindra reached the finals. (Agencies)



Dipa Karmakar, the first Indian female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, had just had three weeks of serious training ahead of the test event in Rio in April. She got the chance to compete after two gymnasts from North Korea withdrew.


Karmakar qualified for the vault final and narrowly missed out on the bronze medal, finishing 4th in the with a score of 15.066.

Dipa Karmakar competes in the qualifying for the women's Beam event of the Artistic Gymnastics at the Olympic Arena in Rio de Janeiro. (AFP Photo)



Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna were fresh off the Davis Cup win over South Korea while Sania Mirza went into the Olympics ranked no 1 in doubles. The pairing of Mirza and Bopanna was the best medal bet.


The tennis campaign got off to a horrid start with both doubles pairs losing their opening matches. Paes’ record seventh Olympic appearance was again mired in controversies. Mirza and Bopanna put on a string of good performances, including a win over Great Britain’s Andy Murray and Heather Watson before losing the semifinal and bronze-medal matches.

Sania Mirza-Rohan Bopanna after they beat Andy Murray and Heather Watson of Great Britain to enter semifinals of mixed doubles at Rio Olympics in Brazil. (PTI Photo)



Deepika Kumari and Bombayla Devi had prior Olympic experience while Laxmirani Majhi and Atanu Das were set for their first taste of the Games. Though consistency had remained an issue, Deepika’s world record-equalling performance earlier in the year meant archers were the dark horses.

Read | Marathon runner says Indian officials didn’t give her water during Rio race


After an early exit from the women’s team competition, Deepika, Bombayla and Atanu put on spirited performances in the singles draw. All three made the round of 16 and fell to stronger opponents.

Archer Deepika Kumari aims at the target during Women's Individual 1/32 elimination round at the Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. (PTI Photo)



The wrestling build-up revolved around Narsingh Yadav’s Olympic participation. Regardless, the experienced Yogeshwar Dutt and Phogat sistes were major medal prospects.


Vinesh suffered a freak injury while Babita and Sandeep Tomar failed to reach the final. However, the unheralded Sakshi Malik won India’s first medal, a bronze, through the repechage.

Yogeshwar Dutt fights with Mongolian wrestler Mandakhnaran Ganzorig during the Men's 65kg Freestyle wrestling match at Summer Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. (PTI Photo)



India men had experienced a turnaround in fortunes with new captain PR Sreejesh leading the team to a silver in the Champions Trophy earlier this year. The women had qualified for the Olympics after 36 years.


Sreejesh and Co blew hot and cold but managed to reach the quarterfinals after 36 years. They were beaten by Belgium. The women had a disastrous campaign and were knocked out in the preliminaries, having failed to win a single match.

Akashdeep Singh scores India’s only goal against Belgium during Rio Olympics. (Reuters Photo)



Renjith Maheshwary, Ankit Sharma set national marks to qualify for Rio. Discus veterans Seema Antil and Vikas Gowda’s performances had been promising and representation in the long distance and steeplechase events raised hopes.

Read| Had expected medals in double digits, shooting flopped: India Rio chief


Triple jumper Maheshwary finished 30th with a jump of 16.13m while long jumper Ankit Sharma could manage only 7.67m in Rio. Seema Punia’s 57.58m in discus at Rio was nowhere close to her best of 62.62 while compatriot Vikas Gowda had a poor throw of 58.99m.

Kenya's Beatrice Chepkoech (right) and Lalita Babar (centre) competes in a women's 3000-metre steeplechase heat during the athletics competitions of Rio Olympics. (AP Photo)

First Published: Aug 23, 2016 09:54 IST

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