Rio de Janeiro, : Lone Indian gymnast at the 31st Olympic Games, Dipa Karmakar created history by advancing to the individual vault final in artistic gymnastics on Sunday.
Karmakar became the first Indian gymnast to enter the final on her debut at the quadrennial multi-discipline games when she finished eighth in the qualifying round.
The first woman from the country to feature in the lineup of gymnasts at the Olympics, Karmakar succeeded in performing the difficult ‘Prudunova’ routine to secure 14.850 points after two attempts, but had to undergo a nervous wait for hours to find out that she had made the final after all other groups of gymnasts had completed their routines.
When she ended her routine, she was placed sixth in the vault apparatus, but eventually dropped to the eighth position as some high-scores later altered the standings.
“I am currently placed sixth on the vault apparatus. There are two more subdivision events left, I have crossed my fingers. I can’t say for sure I have qualified, anything can happen,” she said after finishing her routine.
It was a tense wait for Karmakar and millions of Indian sports followers before her place in the final was confirmed.
Making the top-eight cut in her favourite vault, Karmakar will return to the spotlight in the final that is slated for August 14.
Meanwhile, good news continued to come India’s way from the hockey arena.
Making a comeback to the Olympic arena after a gap of 36 years since their lone appearance in 1980, the Indian women’s team began their campaign with a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Japan.
Making a comeback from a two-goal deficit at half-time, India staged a remarkable rally to score twice in the third quarter and were pressing for a winning goal when the hooter came to Japan’s rescue.
Starting on a tentative and defensive note, the Indian girls got their belief back and began attacking when a reversal stared them in the face.
Goals from star striker Rani Rampal (31st minute) and Lalima Minz (40th minute) earned India the draw after Japan had surged ahead through goals from Emi Nishikori (15th minute) and Mie Nakashima (28th minute).
This victory for the Indian women came a day after India’s men started the Olympics with a narrow 3-2 victory over Ireland on the first day.
India’s women archers suffered a heart-break when they lost the team recurve quarterfinal to World champions Russia 23-25 on a shoot-out after both countries had won two sets each.
India’s recurve encounter with Russia was a replay of the 2015 World Championship final in Copenhagen, where a victory had clinched the title for the Russian women.
After overcoming India, the Russians outplayed Italy in the semifinals before losing to South Korea in the final. This was the eighth successive gold medal in the event for South Korean women.
Russia, the reigning World champions, and India ended level on points after four sets with the scores reading (Russia-India) 55-48, 52-53, 50-53, 55-54.
Unlike at the 2012 London Olympics, where the Indian recurve team had net melted away in the heat of the challenge confronting them, the girls put up a gallant show.
But the Indian challenge withered away in the shoot-out after star performer Laishram Bombayla Devi’s nerves betrayed her.
Bombayla was the star performer among the Indian archers, but shot a poor score of seven (7) to start the tie-break and India failed to recover from the three point advantage Russia got through their perfect 10 score.
Russia got six and nine on the next two shots, while Laxmirani Majhi and Deepika Kumari shot eight each and it was over.
In the end, it was up to Deepika to hit the bull’s eye for a perfect 10 to tie the scores, but this was not her day. She had begun with a 10 in her first shot of the quarterfinal and repeated it once again in the third set, but could not match Bombayla’s three perfect 10 shots.
Rallying after dropping the first set, the Indians women won the next two in style and the Russian trio comprising Ksenia Perova, Inna Stepanova and Tuiana Dashidorzhieva suddenly felt the impact of the Indian challenge, but they managed to clinch the fourth set by a narrow margin and take the issue to a shoot-out.
Elsewhere, the Indian shooters continued to produce disappointing results.
Heena Sidhu failed to advance from the qualifying round of the women’s 10-metre air pistol event, while trap shooters Manavjit Singh Sandhu and Kynan Chenai finished 17th and 19th respectively on the first day of their qualifying round.
Heena, the 26-year-old silver medallist in the 2010 Asian Games finished 14th in the women’s 10-metre air pistol’s qualifying round and failed to advance to the final, which is restricted to the top eight.
Heena shot 94, 95, 96 and 95 in her four rounds for an average score of 9.500 and a total of 380.
Heena still has a chance to redeem herself in the 25-metre pistol event on August 9.
In the men’s trap event, Sandhu and Chenai shot 68 and 67 respectively in three rounds comprising 75 shots in all. (ANI)