Sharath only winner, boxers in crucial fights Wednesday(India Lead)

August 19th, 2008 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 19 (IANS) Paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal was the only saving grace for India after a disastrous show by long jumper Anju Bobby George at the Olympic Games here Tuesday. But the numerous fans back home would be more interested in the action in the ring Wednesday, with two boxers both a bout away from a medal. Yogeshwar Dutt also failed on the mat, as India had another unproductive outing on the 11th day of the Games.

Sharath Kamal, double gold medallist at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, kept himself in fray by storming to the second round with a 4-2 victory in the best-of-seven match at the Peking University Gymnasium.

The 26-year-old Sharath Kamal won 6-11, 12-10, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7 in 45 minutes. A victory in the second round is likely to see him clash with World No.1 Wang Hao of China in the quarterfinals.

The win against Carneros brings the Indian face-to-face with World No. 31 Chen Weixing, a Chinese-born who plays for Austria. Weixing, who got a bye in the first round, has beaten the Indian several times in the past, including once at the China Open in 2006.

Anju’s ‘X-X-X’ (all foul jumps) ouster added to the pathetic showing of the Indian track and field contingent at the Games, where not a single athlete has progressed beyond the first stage. And worse, all of them have performed at levels way below what they had achieved to get into the Olympic team.

The 31-year-old Kerala jumper, who had been way below her best even in the run-up to the Games, said she hurt her ankle during the warm-up and could not come up with a good showing. In any case, she stepped over the board on all her three attempts and did not record a single legal jump.

With the automatic qualification for the final set at 6.75m, Anju needed a performance way above what she has been achieving in recent months to make the grade. At Athens, she did make the final and finished sixth with a best of 6.83m, a mark she has not been able to come close for some time now.

In the end, she crumbled under pressure, though some of the officials expressed surprise at her not being able to record a single jump. “An experienced athlete like her should have at least recorded a legal jump in the first or second attempt and then tried to go all out,” she said.

In wrestling, Dutt won his first round, but then lost to a more experienced wrestler in the second to crash out of the Olympic men’s 60 kg freestyle competition.

The Indian, who won his first round against Kazhak Baurzhan Orazgaliyev 3-1, lost the next bout to Japanese Kenichi Yumoto by the same margin in the quarterfinal at CAU Gymnasium.

With Yumoto himself losing the quarterfinal to European champion Vasyl Fedoryshyn of Ukraine, Dutt could not get into the repechage and that ended his Olympic campaign.

But all attention will be on Vijender Kumar and Jitender Kumar, who present the new face of Indian boxing and possibly sport, as they get into the ring for their quarterfinals finals. And that may be India’s last and best chance of a second - and maybe even a third - Olympic medal after a series of disappointments over the past few days.

Save for performance from Saina Nehwal in badminton, there has been little to cheer for India since that moment of euphoria Abhinav Bindra provided for the Indian contingent by clinching a gold medal in men’s 10m Air Rifle event.

The 23-year-old Vijender squares up against 19-year-old Ecuadorian Carlos Gongora in the middleweight (75kg) category and Jitender, barely 20, in the flyweight (51kg) category meets the more experienced and three-time European champion from Russia Georgy Balakshin, who at 28 has seen a lot of action in his eventful career.

Both Vijender and Jitender hero-worship Akhil Kumar, who lost out in the quarterfinals of the bantamweight (54kg), to Moldovan Gojan Veaceslav. And if there is one lesson that both Vijender and Jitender would do well to learn, is to ensure they have a Plan B in place.

Akhil and the Indian team management for all their positive outlook were clearly out-thought as Veaceslav, was not only stronger than expected, but also had a very tight defence, which the Indian just could not penetrate.

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