India at London Olympics 2012: Heartbreaks
The flag has changed hands at London and the focus now shifts to Rio de Janeiro that will host the 2016 Games. India registered its best ever show at the prestigious event with six medals. The medallists were lauded and rewarded for their feat. However, the 2012 Summer Games weren’t just about the heroes. A lot was expected from the biggest ever Indian contingent with realistic hopes of a haul in double figures. Here we take a look at the stars who failed to live up to the hype.
Abhinav Bindra fails to shine
A lot was expected from a certain baby faced shooter hailing from Chandigarh.
To say a medal was expected from Abhinav Bindra would be an understatement. In fact, he was the favourite to don the yellow metal again in the 10m Air Rifle event after his historic gold medal in Beijing. As luck would have it, Bindra failed to even qualify for the finals.
His score of 594 out of 600 wasn’t enough to merit him a final berth and he finished a dismal 16th out of the 47 competitors in the qualifying round. He, thus not only lost the opportunity to become the first ever Indian to win back-to-back Olympic medals but also missed out on becoming the first shooter to win two consecutive gold medals at the quadrennial event.
Vijender Singh: In 2008, Vijender Singh became the first ever Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal.
This distinction made him an overnight superstar and a poster boy of Indian boxing. His good looks added to his charm. As was with Bindra, his was one of the strongest claims for the top spot at the 2012 Summer Games in men’s 75kg category — a certain medal prospect to say the least. The Beijing Games bronze medallist began his campaign on a bright note outclassing his Kazak opponent Danabek Sukhanov 14-10 to move to the pre-quarters.
The next bout was a close affair as he fought hard to edge ahead of American Terrell Gausha 16-15 in the quarterfinals. He was struggling in the first round but managed to narrowly clinch it 4-3. The other two rounds ended in a stalemate with the scores tied in each. The 27-year-old, thus, was declared winner by a single point.
A few mistakes in the quarterfinal match cost him the bout against Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev whom he had defeated in the 2010 Asian Games. He lost 13-17 bringing an end to his run at the Olympics.
Devendro Singh: It took 20-year-old Devendro Singh just two minutes and 64 seconds to win his first ever Olympic bout. The demure boxer from Manipur went all-out against Bayron Molina Figueroa from the word go in the 49kg boxing category event.
Each of his punches came as a lightning bolt to Figueroa who was twice given a standing 8-count in the first round itself. With 36 seconds still to go, the referee stopped the match as Devendro’s onslaught proved too much for his 19-year-old opponent from Honduras. He stormed into the pre-quarters with a dominating show with a scoreline that read 24-2.
Devendro’s next opponent was Serdamba Purevdorj-a former world champion. Clearly, Devendro cared nothing of this reputation as he launched a flurry of punches on the Mongolian who in turn was left dazed, unable to recover from the shock eventually losing 11-16.
The quarterfinal bout was marred by controversies as the Indian camp complained about refereeing and warnings issued to the feisty boxer who eventually bowed out losing 18-23 to Paddy Barnes of Ireland.
Archers miss the mark
On the hallowed turf of the Lord’s, Indian archers were expected to script history. The presence of world no 1 archer Deepika Kumari among the contingent was enough to suggest that they were among the medal contenders. The built up to the event was quite positive with the archers themselves confident of putting up a good show.
A lot of hype was built around the archers and the talk of landing a gold medal seemed realistic.
In a stark contrast, both the men and women’s team disappointed. The former lost a close pre-quarter final encounter to Japan 29-27 in the shoot-off while the latter lost to Denmark 210-211 in the same leg.
Even in the individual events they returned empty handed with the biggest casualty being 18-year-old Deepika who was stunned by Britain’s Amy Oliver 2-6 in the opening round. She was the last of the six archers to bow out and with her ended India’s unsuccessful campaign in archery.
No last hurrah for Leander Paes
The feud between the nations’ elite racquet-wielders brought Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in the spotlight just a few days before the Olympics. The latter’s refusal to partner the former and the resulting face-off with Tennis association seemed to threaten their participation in the prestigious tournament. Nevertheless, the deadlock was broken after much mudslinging in public and to please both the parties, a compromise formula was drafted.
Leander Paes, participating in his last ever Olympics partnered Sania Mirza in the mixed doubles event. The duo started well defeating Serbian pair of Nenad Zimonjic and Anna Ivanovic 6-2, 6-4 in the pre-quarters.
However, Paes’ hopes of adding another Olympic medal to his bronze that he won at Atlanta were dashed as top seeded pair of Max Mirnyi and Victoria Azarenka outclassed the Indian pair 7-5, 7-6(5) in the quarters.
Before them, Mahesh Bhupathi, who was paired with Rohan Bopanna, lost in straight sets to French pair of Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau in the men’s doubles event in the second round.
Hockey: The sorry state continues
With the appointment of Australian Michael Nobbs as the Indian hockey coach and the stupendous show during the Olympic qualifiers in New Delhi, seeds of hopes were sown. Alas the seeds failed to germinate. One after the other the Indian team lead by captain Bharat Chettri succumbed to six consecutive defeats at the London Games.
The team failed to win a single match that resulted in its worst ever Olympic performance that saw them finishing last among the 12 participating nations. This followed their failure to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Games.
During the event, India conceded 21 goals while scoring just eight.
It was apparent by their show how well prepared the team was to face top-grade teams in as big a tournament as the Olympics. The ineffectiveness of the strikers and the lack of coordination between the players became the talking point as the tournament progressed.
Even in the last match against South Africa, the gaps in their defences were exposed when they went behind by a goal in the eighth minute itself. By the end of the game, the eight-time gold medallists were trailing 2-3 and eventually went down despite a late surge.