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Shuttlers shine, boxers end without medal in Rio Olympics

P V Sindhu

Rio de Janeiro: K Srikanth and P V Sindhu kept the medal hopes alive in badminton with facile wins but boxers drew a blank after Vikas Krishan was ousted in the quarterfinals on a mixed day for Indian athletes in the Rio Games here.

The 21-19 21-19 win for Srikanth, ranked 11th in the world, lifted the sagging spirits of India on the 10th day of competitions as he became the second shuttler after P Kashyap in the London Games four years ago to reach the last eight in men’s singles.

Later, two-time World Championship bronze-medallist P V Sindhu advanced to the quarterfinals of the women’s singles competition after notching up a dominating straight-game win over Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying at the Olympic Games here.

The 21-year-old from Hyderabad outclassed eighth seed Tai 21-13 21-15 in a 40-minute pre-quarterfinals clash here. She will next take on China’s Wang Yihan, the London Olympics silver-medallist.

However, India’s slim hopes of a medal in the women’s 3000m steeplechse disappeared when Lalita Babar, the first track athlete to qualify for an Olympic final in 32 years, could finish only 10th in 9 minutes, 22.74 seconds.

She had set a new national mark of 9:19.76s when she qualified for the final two days ago, but could not improve on it in a race won with a searing run to the gold by Bahrain’s diminutive Kenya-born Asian Games champion Ruth Jebet in 8:59.75s.

Despite her 10th place finish, Babar’s effort was still the best performance by an Indian in a track event after 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 in 1984 Los Angeles to qualify for a final at 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.

Two other athletes – Srabani Nanda, in women’s 200m, and triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary – made tame exits in the first round while wrestler Ravinder Khatri lost his opening round fight against Hungary’s Viktor Lorincz in the greco roman 85kg class.

There was disappointment in the boxing arena as well with former Asian Games gold-medallist Vikas (75kg) took 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 today drew the curtains on the Indian boxing challenge in the Games.

In fact, 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 (a bronze in 2008 Beijing Games).

In the quarterfinal contest last night, the 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.

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