Olympics: Mary Kom keeps alive India’s medal hopes, hockey team crushed (India Roundup)

August 6th, 2012 - 12:17 am ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 5 (IANS) Indian boxer M.C. Mary Kom kept alive the medal hopes for her country as women’s boxing made its Olympic debut while the men’s hockey team was set to make its worst finish in the Games after it suffered a fourth consecutive loss here Sunday.

The hockey team’s poor performance continued as they suffered their fourth consecutive loss, going down 1-4 to South Korea in their penultimate group B match at the Riverbank Arena.

At the Royal Artillery Barracks, where India two medals have come, trap shooter Manavjit Sandhu finished a poor 25th among 34 competitors on the first day of men’s qualification and risks missing the final round.

In boxing, Mary Kom, a five-time World Champion, put on a valiant display as she downed a bigger Polish opponent Karolina Michalczuk to enter the quarterfinals of the 51 kg category here Sunday. She is now just a step away from a historic Olympic medal.

The boxer, known as Magnificent Mary, had to fight hard to progress to the next stage, winning 19-14 at the ExCel Arena. The Indian faces Maroua Rahali of Tunisia in a last eight bout Monday.

The first round was a tight affair as both the boxers came out attacking. There was nothing to separate the two as the round ended 3-3.

In the second round, the Indian boxer came out with a new vigour and attacked viciously. The Polish boxer too didn’t flinch as she she answered Mary Kom’s punches with some of her own.

Many thought the round might got to the Pole, who towards the end sent the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist reeling. Karolina landed a hard right hook which took the wind out of the Indian. But the judges still awarded the round in the Indian’s favour 5-4.

Mary Kom showed her class in the third. She attacked with a flurry of combinations which had the Pole ducking and evading. Both of them traded punches for a while but it was clear that the diminutive Indian was well ahead. With quick feet and quick hands, Mary Kom surged ahead into the lead, taking the round 7-3.

With both boxers tiring in the fourth round, the Indian tried to stay away from the reach of her opponent, who had to reduce a five-point deficit.

Karolina fought hard for a comeback but the Indian was too good for her. Time running-out, the Pole caught Mary Kom a couple of times but could only draw the final round 4-4.

At the Riverbank Arena, the eight-time Olympic champions, who returned to the Games after missing out on Beijing in 2008, were outpaced by the South Koreans.

The South Koreans, who had suffered a 1-2 loss to lowly-ranked Belgium in their last match, played with vengeance. They were impeccable from their penalty corners, converting three of the five chances that came their way. Hyun Woo Nam (60th, 70th) struck twice while Jong Hyun Jang (6th) and Lee Seung (68th) got goals apiece.

India were pathetic with their penalty corner conversions, misfiring all the four chances they got. Gurwinder Singh Chandi (10th) scored the only goal for India.

It was an utter dismal performance by Indian on an occasion when they had only pride to play for.

The Indian defence again caved in under relentless attack by the South Korean, who took an early lead in the sixth minute after Jang converted the penalty corner for his 103rd international goal.

Stung by an early goal, the Indians stepped up the accelerator and found the equaliser four minutes later after an unmarked Chandi slotted in a precise pass from Dharamvir Singh.

Barring the only goal, the Indians were uninspring as the forwards failed to connect with the centre-half. Dharamvir had his shot saved by the South Korean goalkeeper in the 14th minute while on another occasion forward Shivendra Singh failed to connect a great pass from S.V.Sunil when he had just the goalkeeper to beat.

The midfielders created many chances from the counter-attacks but the forwards were never in sync with them.

South Korea struck thrice in the last 10th minute to pile the misery on the Indians, who paid the price of missed chances.

Indians are still languishing at the bottom of the group with no points from four matches. The South Koreans are third behind the Netherlands and Germany, who are on course to the semi-finals. India in their last group encounter face Belgium here Tuesday.

In shooting, Sandhu, a former World Champion, shot a total of 70 (24, 24, 22) out of 75 in the first three rounds on the first day of the qualification.

The last two rounds, of 50 shots, are scheduled for Monday. Even if the 35-year-old manages a perfect two round of 25 he is unlikely to finish among the top-six who would make it to the medal round.

Australia’s Michael Diamond, Commonwealth Games gold medallist, leads the field with a perfect 75.

Five shooters are tied for the second place with a score of 74 and seven shooters share the third spot with a total of 73 each.

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