Olympics: Saina, Vijender, Jai Bhagwan keep India’s hopes alive (Evening Lead)

July 29th, 2012 - 9:23 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 29 (IANS) India’s champion shuttler Saina Nehwal had an easy outing and Jai Bhagwan joined his more illustrious team mate Vijender Singh in the round of 16 but the archers, paddlers and shooters fell by the wayside at the 2012 London Games here Sunday.

Saina, India’s best bet for an Olympic medal, won her first group match against Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet in straight games in the women’s singles badminton event. The World No.5, a quarterfinalist at the Beijing Games, won 21-9, 21-4 in 24 minutes at the Wembley Arena.

In men’s boxing, Jai Bhagwan decimated Seychelles’ Andrique Allisop 18-8 into the round of 16 of the 60kg catgeory.

It was an inspiring performance by Jai Bhawan after his childhood buddy Vijender, a bronze medallist at the Beijing Games, moved into the prequarters late Saturday night beating Kazakhstan’s Danabek Suzhanov 14-10 in the first round of the 75 kg division.

Saina’s performance was the silver lining in Indian badminton after the mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V.Diju jeopardised their chances of making the knockout round after suffering a second successive defeat.

The Indians, who were beaten by third-seeded Indonesian pair in the first match Saturday, lost this morning to Denmark’s Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl in straight games, 12-21, 16-21, in a Group C match at the Wembley Arena.

The World No. 13 duo were no match for their eighth-ranked opponents in the first game, losing it in 13 minutes. They put up a better show in the second but it wasn’t enough to trouble the Danes.

Jwala-Diju play South Korea’s Jung Eun Ha and Yong Dae Lee in their must win final group game Tuesday.

Shooters, who are India’s medal prospect, also misfired as Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh failed to qualify for the women’s 10m air pistol finals at the 2012 Olympics here Sunday.

Heena finished at 12th with 382 points while Annu Raj was 23rd with 378 at the Royal Artillery Barracks. A top eight finish would have taken them into the finals.

A series of nines towards the end of the final round saw Heena end just three less than Russia’s Liubov Yaskevich, who totalled 385.

Heena began the final round with five consecutive 10s, putting her in prime position for a place in the final. But a string of 9s in the next five shots meant she could only finish 12th.

Annu Raj ended with a paltry 91 in the final round when she needed a near perfect round to make the final. She did not have a good start scoring 94 in the first round but stormed into contention with 96 and 97 in the next two rounds.

It was also the end of road for the highly rated women’s archery team, which was ranked World No.2. The women’s trio of Deepika Kumari, Chekrovolu Swuro and Laishram Bombayala Devi lost to Denmark by a slender one-point margin in the elimination round at the iconic Lord’s cricket ground.

The Indians faltered in crunch moments to go down 210-211 to Denmark’s Carina Christiansen, Maja Jager and Louise Laursen. The loss capped India’s dismal show in the team events after the men lost to Japan in another eliminator Saturday.

India will now hope for a medal from the individual event Monday with the bulk of the expectations on Deepika, ranked world number one.

Rowers, however, kept alive their hopes as Sawarn Singh entered the men’s single sculls quarterfinals at the London Olympics after clocking the fastest time in the repechage round here Sunday.

Sawarn set a time of 7:00.49 to finish first amongst five contestants. The Indian was 3.42 seconds faster than the second-placed Dongyong Kim, who also entered the quarterfinals.

In men’s lightweight double sculls, Sandeep Kumar and Manjeet Singh finished fourth in the first heat at the Eton Dorney but qualified for the repechage. The Indian pair finished 6:56.60 at the Eton Dorney and will have another chance through the repechage to qualify for the knock-out round.

It was curtains on India’s table tennis challenge as 19-year-old Soumyajit Ghosh was knocked out despite a spirited effort against higher ranked Kim Hyok Bong of North Korea in the men’s singles second round.

World No.206 Ghosh gave a tough fight to his 77th-ranked opponent before losing 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 9-11, 7-11.

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