The opening day of Rio Olympics 2016 brought mixed fortunes for India. While the Indian hockey team won their opening game at Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games, the other saw the ouster of several Indian athletes, biggest among them being in shooting and tennis. Here are the big hits and misses from the Day one for India.
India's day at Rio began on a positive note as rower Dattu Bhokanal's qualification in the men's single sculls event was a pleasant surprise as he reached the quarter-finals after finishing third in his heat. In the first heat of the day, the 25-year-old from the Indian Army finished the 2000-metre race in seven minutes and 21.67 seconds at the Lagoa Stadium. The Maharashtra army man is the sole Indian to have qualified for the rowing events. He was in second place for the first 500 metres of the race, but started to lag behind once Juan Carlos of Mexico in the second lane picked up pace around the 700m mark. Bhokanal finishing the 2000m race in 7 minutes and 21.67 seconds behind Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba (7:06.89) and Mexico's Juan Carlos Cabrera (7:08.27).
Men's Hockey Team
In men's hockey it was drag-flick experts Rupinder Pal Singh, who scored a brace, and V R Raghunath who gave India something to cheer. Although faced with minnows Ireland, it was a close game especially in the last two quarters, but the team managed to to break the poor sequence of opening game losses in Olympics going back to Athens in 2004.
Raghunath scored in the 15th minute and Rupinder in the 27th and 49th, converting three out of seven penalty corners India earned in the match. Ireland gave India a run for their money, especially in the second half, finding the net twice through Jermyn John in the 45th and Conor Harte in the 56th.
India's next match is against two-time defending champions Germany on Monday. This win will give the team a strong morale-boost ahead of that crunch encounter.
At the shooting ranges, Apurvi Chandela and Ayonika Paul crashed out after losing in the quarter-finals of the women's 10 metre air rifle event.
Apurvi was placed in the 34th position with a combined score of 411.6 while Ayonika was 43rd with 407.0 among 51 shooters at the Olympic Shooting Centre. The expectations for a better show from the Indian duo were dashed as they were found wanting in a top-class field.
Apurvi had won the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Her other colleague Ayonika Paul had won the silver at the competition. Ayonika, who too watched the finals from the rear gallery, did not want to comment.
"I don't know what happened, my mind has totally gone blank," Apurvi told IANS after the event. "Of course when I came in this morning, I expected to win. Who doesn't," a visibly crestfallen Apurvi.
In the men's draw, Jitu Rai finished eighth in the men's 10 metre Air Pistol event. Jitu produced a string of poor shots for a total score of 78.7 and was the first to be eliminated from the eight-man final.
Playing in his maiden Olympics, Jitu showed signs of nerves right from the qualifying rounds and made it to the final by the skin of his teeth. He continued his nervous performance in the final as well and lagged behind in the early stages and was unable to rise above the last place.He slipped to the eighth and last spot right at the start with a total score of 28.9 points after the first three shots.
He ran into further trouble with a 9.7 in his next shot. The 28-year-old continued to struggle with his next couple of shots as the shooters at the top of the pack continued to churn out consistent above 10 attempts. On the brink of elimination with an overall score of 68.6, Jitu managed a 10.1 but it was not enough to keep him in the competition.
The tennis court also did not yield any positive results as the men's doubles combination of Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna and the women's doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Prarthana Thombare crashed out in the opening rounds of their respective categories.
In women's doubles, Sania and Prarthana went down fighting to Shuai Peng and Shuai Zhang of China in a see-saw first round encounter at the Olympic Tennis Centre. Sania and Prarthana gave a good account of themselves before going down 6-7 (6), 7-5, 5-7 in two hours and 44 minutes.
Paes was not Bopanna's partner of choice and the duo clearly did not enjoy the best camaraderie in the run up to the Olympics. That clearly reflected in their on-court performance as the Indians went down 4-6, 6-7 (6) to 's Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski of Poland. Paes-Bopanna surrendered the first set in 32 minutes at the Olympic Tennis Centre and the second set in 52 minutes.
It was Paes' record-setting seventh Olympic appearance, which ended on a disappointing note for the veteran star. Paes-Bopanna converted both break points received but gave away seven break points in the first set. Kubot-Matkowski won three of the seven break points received to win the first set 6-4.
The Indian pair committed 18 unforced errors in comparison to 10 by their opponents in the first set. The second set was closely contested with both teams retaining their serves to stretch it to a tie-breaker. But ultimately the Indian pair went down fighting 8-6 in the tie-breaker to bow out in 1 hour 24 minutes. They won only 59 of the total 132 points played in the match.
In table tennis, veteran Mouma Das and national champion Manika Batra made their exit after losing their preliminary round singles matches to higher-ranked rivals in the table tennis competition. World no 150 Mouma's challenge was lukewarm and short-lived as the Indian veteran, in her second Olympics, lost to world No 58 Daniela Dodean Monteiro of Romania 2-11, 7-11, 7-11, 3-11. Debutant Manika, on the other hand, put up a good fight before going down to her 60th-ranked Polish rival Katarzyna Franc-Grzybowska 2-4 (12-10 6-11 12-14 11-8 4-11 12-14) in 48 minutes in another preliminary round clash.
Meanwhile, India's veteran paddler Achanta Sharath Kamal was knocked out in the first round of the men's singles competition. The 34-year-old, competing in his third Olympic Games, lost to Romanian Adrian Crisan 1-4 (8-11, 12-14, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11). World No 73 Sharath fought hard in all of the five games but the 36-year-old world No 90 of Romania was up to the challenge. Soumyajit Ghosh also crashed out in the first round of the men's singles table tennis competition at the Olympics here on Saturday. The Bengal paddler lost 1-4 (8-11, 6-11, 14-12, 6-11, 11-13) to Tanviriyavechakul Padasak of Thailand.
In weightlifting, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu crashed out following a disappointing performance after she was unable to make an impact in the women's 48kg category at the Riocentro Pavilion 2 arena. Competing in Group A, Chanu lifted 82 kilograms in the snatch event, but could not complete any of her lifts in the clean and jerk.
In a field of 12 lifters, she was one of two lifters who did not finish (DNF) her event. Mirabai failed to lift 104kg in her first attempt in clean and jerk, followed by two more attempts to pick up 106kg. In both her second and third attempt, the Indian simply couldn't lift the weight.
Star of the Day
Rupinder Pal Singh converted two penalty corners for India, including a classic goal giving India a 2-0 lead. He will be crucial to India's chances in the big games ahead.