Paddler Neha goes down fighting in first round

August 18th, 2008 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By V. Krishnaswamy
Beijing, Aug 18 (IANS) Neha Aggarwal’s Olympic challenge ended in the first round as she went down to Chinese-born Australian Jian Fang Lay in the women’s singles table tennis competition here Monday. After winning the first game, Neha lost the next four to go down 12-10, 8-11, 11-13, 8-11, 4-11 in 34 minutes.

Lay, who moved to Australia in 1994 had given up the sport, but then persuaded by her husband she made a comeback. And now at 35, she is among Australia’s best and was almost twice Neha’s age.

The 18-year-old Neha had twice lost to Lay before but Monday she had her chances. After taking the first game at 12-10, she ran Lay close in the second game till 6-6 before losing 8-11.

In the third game, she again ad her chances at 10-8, but was unable to convert the game point and went down in extra points at 11-13.

In the fourth game, Neha stayed with the Australian till 8-8 before falling back and losing 8-11.

Those two games seemed to have upset Neha, and she also found it tough to handle the attacking returns from Lay.

With Neha’s exit, India’s challenge is now with Sharath Kamal, the Commonwealth Games champion.

“This was my first Olympics and I am disappointed at the result. I started well winning the first game and then I came close to taking the third as I led 10-8. But I lost out in extra points and that upset my rhythm,” said Neha.

“Overall my game was decent enough, but in the latter stages I was finding it difficult to handle her returns,” she added.

Sharath Kamal will open his campaign in men’s singles campaign Tuesday.

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