India's medal hopes continue to head south

India's medal hopes continue to head south

India's Sahana Kumari was eliminated in the women's high jump preliminaries while grappler Geeta Phogat started her campaign in the Olympic wrestling on a losing note on Day 13 of the Games here today.

The country's male boxers ended their medalless campaign after last man in the fray, Devendro Singh (49kg), lost in the quarterfinals despite putting up a gallant fight against Ireland's Paddy Barnes in a contest marred by debatable refereeing to further dent the dwindling medal hopes.

The 20-year-old Manipuri fought his heart out last night but could not prevail over his stronger opponent who scripted a 23-18 victory to romp into the semifinals.

But the high-scoring result left the Indian contingent fuming as they claimed that the refereeing had gone heavily against the diminutive Manipuri who was warned once in the second round for head-butting his opponent. With Devendro's exit, the Indian challenge in the boxing ring came to an end with only M C Mary Kom providing the spark with a historic bronze medal in women's boxing which was introduced in the Olympics for the first time.

Seven male boxers were in fray here, including 2008 Games bronze-medallist Vijender Singh (75kg), who also lost in the quarterfinals. Backed by the packed arena, Barnes took an early lead by winning the first round 7-5 and maintained the tempo right through to send Devendro packing from of his debut Olympics much to the disappointment of the Indian fans.

Sahana performed well below her personal best and was knocked out of the women's high jump after clearing 1.80m and finishing at joint 15th in the Group B of the qualifying competition at the Olympic Stadium.

The 30-year-old athlete sailed over the bar at the first attempt with a 1.80m leap but failed in her endeavour to clear the 1.85m mark in all her three attempts and got eliminated.

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