India’s medal hopes continue to head south

Sahana Kumari was eliminated in the women's high jump preliminaries while grappler Geeta Phogat started her campaign in the Olympic wrestling on a losing note.

Written by Agencies | London | Published: August 9, 2012 7:49:42 pm

India’s Sahana Kumari was eliminated in the women’s high jump preliminaries while grappler Geeta Phogat started her campaign in the Olympic wrestling on a losing note on Day 13 of the Games here today.

The country’s male boxers ended their medalless campaign after last man in the fray,Devendro Singh (49kg),lost in the quarterfinals despite putting up a gallant fight against Ireland’s Paddy Barnes in a contest marred by debatable refereeing to further dent the dwindling medal hopes.

The 20-year-old Manipuri fought his heart out last night but could not prevail over his stronger opponent who scripted a 23-18 victory to romp into the semifinals.

But the high-scoring result left the Indian contingentfuming as they claimed that the refereeing had gone heavily against the diminutive Manipuri who was warned once in the second round for head-butting his opponent.

With Devendro’s exit,the Indian challenge in the boxing ring came to an end with only M C Mary Kom providing the spark with a historic bronze medal in women’s boxing which was introduced in the Olympics for the first time.

Seven male boxers were in fray here,including 2008 Games bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg),who also lost in the quarterfinals.

Backed by the packed arena,Barnes took an early lead by winning the first round 7-5 and maintained the tempo right through to send Devendro packing from of his debut Olympics much to the disappointment of the Indian fans.

Sahana performed well below her personal best and was knocked out of the women’s high jump after clearing 1.80m and finishing at joint 15th in the Group B of the qualifying competition at the Olympic Stadium.

The 30-year-old athlete sailed over the bar at the first attempt with a 1.80m leap but failed in her endeavour to clear the 1.85m mark in all her three attempts and got eliminated.

The Bangalore-based athlete had made it to the Games with a leap of 1.92m at the National Inter-State Senior Athletics Championships in Hyderabad on June 23,but failed to come anywhere near that mark.

The best clearance in the event was by Uzbekistan’s Svetlana Radzivil,who topped Group B with her season’s best of 1.96m to sail into the 12-woman final scheduled on August 11.

Woman wrestler Geeta,gold medal winner in the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games,was up against a formidable rival – 2004 Athens silver medalist and 2008 bronze winner Tonya Lynn Verbeek of Canada — and fought bravely before losing the 55kg bout in the last minute.

Geeta had managed to be on level terms with her 35-year-old rival going into the third and final 2-minute round,but slipped a bit towards the end to finally lose 1-3.

The Indian still has an outside chance of winning the bronze medal through repechage,if her Canadian rival – a teacher by profession — goes all the way to the final.

Two-lap racer Tintu Luka would be seen in action later in the day in the women’s 800m semi finals.

Luka qualified for the women’s semis yesterday after finishing third in heat two,clocking 2:01.75,behind reigning world champion Mariya Savinova (2:01.56) of Russia and Alice Schmidt (2:01.65) of United States.

Luka,who has a personal best of 1:59.17,clocked the 13th best time in the heats,going into the semifinals,which will be competed by 24 runners out of which eight will make it to the final round.

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