India's campaign in Games continues to stutter

India's campaign in Games continues to stutter

Boxing medal contender Vijender Singh, single sculls rower Swarn Singh Virk and double sculls duo of Sandeep Kumar and Manjeet Singh stayed in the hunt but paddler Soumyajit Ghosh, women shooters and the archers put up a flop show in the Olympic Games here today.

Beijing Games bronze medallist Vijender, who has vowed to improve upon his showing four years ago when he became the first-ever fist-fighting medal winner from India - began his bid on a sound note in the middleweight (75kg) prequarter finals with a comfortable 14-10 win over Kazakhstan's Danabek Sukhanov in a late night bout yesterday.

"I am delighted to make it through to the next round, he was a tough opponent and now it's onto the next challenge," said the 26-year-old Haryana star. "I want to go home with a different coloured medal this time," he added.

Vijender will take on Terrell Gausha of USA in the pre-quarters on August 2. Rower Swarn Singh held off a late challenge from his South Korean rival Kim Dongyong to win the single sculls repechage round and book a berth in the last eight.

Swran, who had to compete in the repechage round after finishing fourth in the heats yesterday, clocked 7:00.49 to complete the 2-km distance, winning the five-man race by more than a boat's length, at the Eton Dorney Rowing Centre.

The 23-year-old from Punjab had clocked 6:54.04 in the heats yesterday. Kim, who clocked 7:03.91 to finish second, also made it to the quarterfinals, which will be held on Tuesday. Swarn led the five-rower race from the start and only Kim gave him competition while the others fell behind.

In the last 500m, Kim made a last-ditch effort to catch up with Swarn, but the Indian not only held off the challenge but also stretched the lead to win the race by one-and-a-half boat length.

Lightweight double sculls competitors Sandeep and Manjeet finished fourth in the heats and will compete in the repechage round on Tuesday to stay in the medal hunt.

By a stroke of luck tennis player Vishnu Vardhan, who made his way here to partner 1996 singles bronze medallist Leander Paes in the doubles, also got a chance to play in the singles following the withdrawal of an injured player - Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany - in the original draw.

But disappointments continued at the Lord's Cricket Ground, venue of archery competitions, where the women's team was off target in crunch situations as it lost to Denmark by a point in a see-saw pre-quarterfinal battle.

The trio of world number one Deepika Kumari, Bombayla Devi and Chekrovolu Swuro lost 210-211 to the Danish team, comprising Louise Laursen, Maja Jager and Carina Christiansen, and made their exit from the team event.

Even though the Indians hit more perfect 10s than their rivals, the Danish saved their best for key moments in which the Indians seemed to wilt under pressure.

The Danes hit the bull's eye thrice compared to just once by the Indians, who were hampered by Deepika's indifferent form.

Bombayla, however, seemed in good touch and kept the team in the hunt till the end, getting most of the 10s - including 3 in a row, but Swuro fired a poor 5 and then a 6 to let the team down.

The Indians managed to win the first and the last sets, but the Danes had the overall lead.

Earlier, the men's team had crashed out at the pre-quarterfinal stage yesterday after losing to Japan.

The archers now will have to look forward to the individual events, starting tomorrow.

Indian shooters continued to be way off the mark as Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh bowed out of the women's 10m air pistol event after failing to qualify for the finals.

Heena came close after finishing 12th with a score of 382 while Annu Raj ended 23rd at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

Vijay Kumar could not qualify for the final of the men's 10m air pistol event yesterday.
India's challenge in table tennis came to an end as well as Soumyajit crashed out after suffering a 1-4 thrashing at the hands of North Korea's Hyok Bong Kim in a second round men's singles encounter.

The 19-year-old player from Siligury lost 11-9 6-11 5-11 9-11 and 7-11 at the ExCel centre, a day after women's singles representative Ankita Das, the only other Indian competitor at the Games, bowed out in the first round yesterday.

Soumyajit started off well, winning the first game, but lost the plot thereafter, losing four straight games in a row.

The feuding Indian men's tennis players would be seen in action in the doubles event later in the day while the men's hockey outfit would make its entry in the competition after a gap of eight years tomorrow.

Beijing Games gold medallist Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang would also make their appearance at the shooting range tomorrow by competing in the 10M Air Rifle event.

Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding the mystery woman who was seen at the Opening Ceremony march past with the Indian participants, intensified with the Indian authorities lodging a protest with the Games organisers, LOCOG, whose chief Sebastian Coe revealed that she was a cast member of the ceremony who "got overexcited".

The Indian contingent is still awaiting a communication from the Games organisers on how an unidentified lady was allowed to gatecrash into the team's march past.

The Indians have submitted a letter on this embarrassing issue to the organisers last night and acting Chef-de-Mission Brig P K Muralidharan Raja said that no response has come yet.

"We have submitted the letter expressing our strong resentment on the matter to the organisers last night. We are still waiting for their response," Raja told PTI here a day after photos of the woman appeared in the media.

An Indian newspaper has identified the young woman dressed in a red top and blue pants as Madhura Honey, a post-graduate from Bangalore.

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