Tokyo: Day One began well for Indians, but thereafter it has been a downward trend at Tokyo Olympics. On the fifth day, however, women bounced back to brighten up the medal prospects.
So, badminton ace P V Sindhu and seasoned archer Deepika Kumari marched into the last-16 of their respective events; debutant boxer Pooja Rani (75kg) won her easy opening bout without a fuss to enter the last-eight stage.
But almost everything did not go as per the Indian narrative. Women's hockey team stared at early elimination after failing to upstage defending champions Great Britain.
There was some cheer in archery before things went haywire, to an extent. Three-time Olympian Tarundeep Rai defeated Oleksii Hunbin of Ukraine but lost to Itay Shanny of Israel in a shoot-off in the second round. As Rai faded, a new star rose on the horizon in Pravin Jadhav, the son of a daily wage labourer in Maharashtra's Satara, who stunned world number two Galsan Bazarzhapov of Russia 6-0 before expectedly going down to world number one Brady Ellison of the USA in the second round.
Deepika (archery) managed to stay on target in her clashes against Bhutan's Karma and American Jennifer Mucino-Fernandez to make the last-16, struggling in the windy conditions overall.
Before that, Sindhu did her thing in the badminton court, outwitting Hong Kong's N Y Cheung 21-9 21-16 to top her group and make the last-16.
The boxing ring brought some good news for the Indians with Rani's progression to the last-eight stage. The 30-year-old two-time Asian champion out-punched Algeria's Ichrak Chaib 5-0, thoroughly dominating a rival 10 years her junior.
On Thursday, a resurgent Indian men's hockey team would look to seal a quarterfinal berth when it takes on defending champions Argentina in its penultimate pool match. With two wins out of three games, world no.4 India are at the second spot in Pool A.
Also, six-time world champion M C Mary Kom (51kg) will fight her pre-quarterfinal bout against Colombia's Ingrit Valencia, a boxer she has defeated both times the two have faced off.
In men's boxing, debutant Satish Kumar, the first super heavyweight (+91kg) to make the Olympic cut from India will open his campaign in the pre-quarterfinal stage against Jamaica's Ricardo Brown.
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