Olympics roundup: Sindhu, Atanu Das shine on bitter-sweet day for India

Tokyo, Jul 29 (IANS): PV Sindhu, badminton silver medallist at the 2016 Olympics, on Thursday kept on course for gold as she stormed into the quarterfinals, as did archer Atanu Das who reached the Round of 16, while the men's hockey team shocked champions Argentina and clinched a spot in the quarters on a day of scintillating performances for India.

However, the day that started on a rousing note, thanks to Sindhu and Das, ended on a gloomy note as boxing legend MC Mary Kom bowed out in the pre-quarterfinals, losing a tight bout to 2016 Olympics bronze medallist Ingrit Valencia of Colombia 3:2 split decision in the women's 51kg (flyweight) round of 16.

The defeat brought down the curtains on a brilliant career in which she won everything the sport had to offer, including six World Championships titles, and an Olympic bronze when in 2012 when women's boxing made its debut in London.

Shooter Manu Bhaker was placed fifth, finally coming good as she shot a competitive 292 in the precision round of the women's 25m pistol, putting herself in great position to qualify for Friday's final by doing well in the rapid fire section of the two-round, two-day qualification programme. If she manages to reach the final, she will only be the second Indian after Saurabh Chaudhary to make the final of a shooting event in Tokyo after the 15-member contingent proved a disaster for the second successive Olympics.

Manu's compatriot Rahi Sarnobat, who won a gold medal in a World Cup event in Croatia just before the Olympics, struggled for rhythm as she was placed 25th with a score of 287.

But the day belonged to Sindhu and Atanu Das as they remained on course for a medal, to add to the lone silver that India has won through weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu.

Shindu was expected to face some trouble against Mia Blichfeldt, the former world No.11, but outplayed the Dane to win 21-15, 21-13 their pre-quarter final clash. Sindhu played aggressively and used her deceptive drops to devastating effect as she kept Mia on tenterhooks throughout the match.

Das was equally impressive as he stunned a Korean former champion in a one arrow shootoff, hitting 10 when it mattered most, against Jinhyek, who looked totally off colour, even shooting a six. As Das came back strongly after losing the first set to tie scores at 5-5 and win it in the shootoff, making a 10 after the Korean had managed a nine.

Das was focused, very composed and did not lose his concentration as some of the competitors watched in disbelief. He will now take on Japan's Takaharu Furukawa on Saturday.

The men's hockey team continued its recovery after its 1-7 rout by Australia a couple of days ago by stunning Olympic champions Argentina 3-1, scoring goals in the 58th and 59th minute. The Indian team that usually concedes late goals, but for a change scored two via Vivek Sagar Prasad and Harmanpreet Singh after Argentina had equalised Varun Kumar's opener. This sealed for them the second spot in the pool with the match against Japan to go.

Mary Kom was expected to lift the gloom in the boxing camp after the shock defeats of Vikas Krishan and Manish Kaushik but she could not advance despite putting up a brilliant performance, losing the bout narrowly. The 39-year-old mother of three again proved that age is no bar for her as she came back strongly to overcome the disappointment of missing the 2016 Olympics and not only qualified for Tokyo but also won a round. With a bit of luck on Thursday, she could have won the match and maintained her hopes of adding another medal to her bronze medal.

Super heavyweight boxer Satish Kumar kept the Indian flag flying in the boxing ring by advancing to the quarterfinals with a comprehensive win against Ricardo Brown of Jamaica in a round of 16 bout. Kumar is the first Indian to qualify for the Olympics in this weight class.



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Title: Olympics roundup: Sindhu, Atanu Das shine on bitter-sweet day for India

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