Woman shuttler P V Sindhu carries India’s medal hope on day 11 of the Olympic Games here when she faces a daunting task against China’s Wang Yihan, silver-medallist four years ago in London, in the quarterfinals. The lanky player from Hyderabad and Kidambi Srikanth, who made it to the men’s singles quarters, are the only two medal contenders left in the competition after the shock elimination of last Games bronze medallist and former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal two days ago.
Two-time World Championship bronze-medallist Sindhu advanced to the last eight of women’s singles by notching up a dominating 21-13 21-15 win in 40 minutes over Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying on Monday which should serve as a good morale boost against the formidable Yihan.
The 21-year-old from Hyderabad outclassed eighth seed Tai 21-13 21-15 in a 40-minute pre-quarterfinals clash here Srikanth also showed his class when he upset higher ranked Danish rival to become the second man from India to enter the last eight in badminton after Parupalli Kashyap in the 2012 London Games.
He too faces an arduous task in the quarters on Wednesday against two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China, who is defending the title which he won in London.
Greco-Roman wrestler Hardeep Singh is the other Indian in action on Tuesday in the 98kg section. Barring the encouraging display of Sindhu and Srikanth it was yet another extremely disappointing day for India here on day 10.
There was disappointment in the boxing arena as well with former Asian Games gold-medallist Vikas (75kg) taking a pounding from second seed Bektemir Melikuziev in the quarterfinals to bow out of the Games, ending India’s boxing challenge without a medal for the first time in eight years. With Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Manoj Kumar (64kg) already out of contention, Vikas’ loss drew the curtains on the Indian boxing challenge in the Games.
It is the second successive time that the male boxers failed to secure a medal given that the 2012 bronze had come through M C Mary Kom (51kg).
Vijender Singh (75kg) thus remains the first and only Indian male boxer to have secured an Olympic medal, bronze in the 2008 Beijing Games.
In the quarterfinal contest, seventh-seeded Vikas was simply no match for the world No.3, a World Championships silver-medallist and the reigning Asian champion, a title he won after beating Vikas in the final last year.
Adding to the overall gloom in the Indian camp, discus thrower Seema Antil finished ninth in Group B qualifying round, and 20th overall, to crash out to cap another poor day for the country.
The 2014 Incheon Asian Games gold medallist, with a personal best of 62.62 metres, was not in her elements and her best throw came in the first attempt, a 57.58m attempt, following a delayed start because of a heavy downpour. Seema committed a foul in her next attempt before finishing with a 56.78m throw in the third and final attempt to conclude her campaign and cap another disastrous day for the athletics.
Yaime Perez of Cuba topped the group with a throw of 65.38m.
Two other Indian athletes — Srabani Nanda, in women’s 200m, and triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary — had also made tame exits in the first round earlier in the day while woman steeplechaser Lalita Babar could finish only 10th in the final of the gruelling 3000m event.
Lalita, the first track athlete to qualify for an Olympic final in 32 years, clocked 9 minutes, 22.74 seconds in the final after having set a new national mark of 9:19.76 when she qualified for the medal race two days ago.
The gold was won with a searing run by Bahrain’s diminutive Kenya-born Asian Games champion Ruth Jebet in 8:59.75.
Despite her 10th place finish, Babar’s effort was still the best performance by an Indian in a track event after PT Usha’s fourth-place finish in the 400m hurdles in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
The 27-year-old from the drought-prone Satara district in Maharashtra had become the second Indian woman after Usha to qualify for a final of a track event at quadrennial extravaganza.
2015 World Championships gold winner Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkomoi of Kenya took the silver in 9:07.12s while American Emma Coburn won the bronze in 9:07.63s.
Srabani, in women’s 200m, and triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary, however, made tame exits in the first round while wrestler Ravinder Khatri lost his opening round fight against Hungary’s Viktor Lorincz 0-9 in the Greco Roman 85kg class.