India draw blank on day ten of Olympics (India lead)

August 18th, 2008 - 10:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Aug 18 (IANS) Heartbreak in the ring and disappointment in table tennis and track and field sum up India’s performance on the tenth day of the Olympic Games here Monday. Boxer Akhil Kumar could not measure up to his own gallant expectations and went down 3-10 in a one-sided bantamweight (54kg) quarterfinal bout against Moldovan Gojan Vaeceslav, enduring the pain of bowing out when the Olympic medal was within his grasp.

In the track and field, triple jumper Renjith Maheswary added to the miserable run of Indian sportspersons as he could not attain his own best at home by falling a metre short and could only manage 35th place overall among 37 competitors.

In women’s table tennis singles, Neha Aggarwal’s Olympic challenge ended in the first round as she bit the dust against Chinese-born Australian Jian Fang Lay.

The much-awaited boxing quarter final bout saw Vaeceslav cleverly picking up points, while keeping a tight guard which just did not allow the Indian to land any points-gathering punches.

The crafty Veaceslav rode on his nimble footwork and excellent guard to force Akhil to do all the running around, and the Indian was frustrated at not being able to find an opening for his punches. And then the Moldovan quickly counter-attacked as the Indian dropped his guard going for the kill.

It was apparent by the third round, that the Moldovan had succeeded in frustrating the Indian, who was now working himself up and throwing caution to the wind and it resulted in giving him away too many cheap points.

The first minute did not produce any points, as both tried to size up the other and then Moldovan opened the account, while Akhil managed to get his first point with under half a minute left in the first round.

Then into the second round, it was Akhil who went ahead with a neat upper cut, but that did not rattle Veaceslav, who restored parity with just a second left in the second round.

It was the third round, which made all the difference. Veaceslav kept picking points with regularity. He logged three within 50 seconds and thereon, Akhil was merely trying to catch up.

Veaceslav ended the round with another point to open up a near unassailable 6-2 advantage.

Into the final round, Akhil’s only hope was to land a heavy knock-out blow, which he did try for but the Moldovan was too smart not to get hit. He kept dancing and bobbing as Akhil went for him. Akhil went for the jugular, exposing himself to free punching by Moldovan because of his open stance.

In retrospect, the 27-year-old Akhil might have looked a bit overconfident, he himself admitted: “You never underestimate an opponent, much like you never get overawed by his reputation.”

Akhil’s defeat reduced India’s challenge to just two boxers, Jitender Kumar and Vijender Kumar, both of whom have their quarter-finals Wednesday.

In triple jump, the 22 year old Maheswary touched 15.77m on his first jump and that remained his best for the day, as he fouled the next effort and managed only 15.51m on the third.

“I feel miserable, as I could not even come close to my best. After the first jump, I gave it all on the second, but fouled it very slightly and on the third I came under pressure and jumped way before the board,” said Maheshwary.

“During my last phase of training, I did not have my coach with me in Malaysia,” he added.

Thus far, all Indian athletes have performed way below their personal bests and have been placed low down in the final standings.

Athletes who have completed their schedules are heptathletes G.G. Pramila, J.J. Shobha and Susmita Singha Roy, discus throwers Krishna Poonia and Harwant Kaur, 10,000m runners Preeja Sreedharan in women’s and Surendra Singh among men and Renjith Maheswary. Mandeep Kaur had failed to go past the first round in the 400m women’s event, but she still has the 4 x 400m relay left.

After winning the first game, paddler Neha lost the next four to go down 12-10, 8-11, 11-13, 8-11, 4-11 in 34 minutes.

With Neha’s exit, India’s sole participant in the discipline now is Commonwealth Games champion Sharath Kamal, who opens his campaign Tuesday.

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