Olympics: Saina, Jai Bhagwan, Vijender add lustre to India`s campaign
London: India`s star shuttler Saina Nehwal eased out her opening match rival and boxer Jai Bhagwan joined his more illustrious team mate Vijender Singh in the round of 16 to raise India`s hopes on a rain-truncated day at the London Olympic Games here Sunday.
Rower Swaran Singh Virk brought more happy tidings as he entered the men`s single sculls quarterfinals, but the story of success ended there as archers continued to be off target, shooters misfired and the lone surviving paddler crashed out of reckoning.
Similar was the fate of Somdev Devvarman who was ousted in the opening round of men`s singles in tennis.
Saina, rated one of India`s best bets for an Olympic medal, outclassed Switzerland`s Sabrina Jaquet in straight games at a women`s singles group match. The World No.5, a quarterfinalist at the Beijing Games, won 21-9, 21-4 in 24 minutes at the Wembley Arena.
In men`s boxing, Jai Bhagwan pulverised Seychelles` Andrique Allisop 18-8 in the opening round of the 60 kg category.
It was an inspiring performance by Jai Bhagwan after his childhood buddy Vijender, a bronze medallist at Beijing, moved into the prequarters late Saturday night by prevailing over Kazakhstan`s Danabek Suzhanov 14-10 in a clinical display in the first round of the 75 kg division.
In rowing, Swarn Singh entered the men`s single sculls quarterfinals of the rowing competition after clocking the fastest time in the repechage clocking 7:00.49. The Indian was 3.42 seconds faster than the second-placed Korean Dongyong Kim, who also made it to the last eight.
Rowers Sandeep Kumar and Manjeet Singh also kept their hopes alive for a place in the knock-out round in men`s lightweight double sculls. The duo finished fourth in the first heat with a timing of 6:56.60 at at the Eton Dorney but qualified for Tuesday`s repechage.
On the flip side, it was the end of road for the highly rated women`s archery team, ranked World No.2.
The women`s trio of Deepika Kumari, Chekrovolu Swuro and Laishram Bombayala Devi lost to Denmark by a slender one-point margin in the elimination round at the iconic Lord`s cricket ground.
The Indians faltered in crunch moments to go down 210-211 to Denmark`s Carina Christiansen, Maja Jager and Louise Laursen on a chilly and windy day. The loss capped the country`s dismal show in the team events after the men lost to Japan in another eliminator Saturday.
India will now hope for a medal from the individual event Monday with the bulk of the expectations on Deepika, ranked world No.1.
The highly rated shooters, on whom rests much of the nation`s medal prospects, floundered at the Royal Artillery Barracks with Heena Sidhu and Annu Raj Singh failing to qualify for the women`s 10 metres air pistol finals.
Heena finished 12th with 382 points while Annu Raj was 23rd logging 378. A top eight finish would have taken them into the finals.
India mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V.Diju jeopardised their chances of making the knockout round after suffering a second successive defeat in badminton.
The Indians, who were beaten by third-seeded Indonesian pair in the first match Saturday, lost this morning to Denmark`s Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl in straight games, 12-21, 16-21, in a Group C match at the Wembley Arena.
Jwala-Diju play South Korea`s Jung Eun Ha and Yong Dae Lee in their must win final group game Tuesday.
It was also curtains on India`s table tennis challenge as 19-year-old Soumyajit Ghosh was knocked out despite a spirited effort against higher ranked Kim Hyok Bong of North Korea in the men`s singles second round.
World No.206 Ghosh gave a tough fight to his 77th-ranked opponent before losing 11-9, 6-11, 5-11, 9-11, 7-11.
At the Wimbledon grasscourt, Somdev went down to Finland`s Jarko Nieminen 3-6 1-6 in 73 minutes of a rain-interrupted match.
Rains robbed India`s glamorous tennis doubles pairs of an opportunity to take to the grass court at Wimbledon as their first round matches were postponedy.
Leander Paes and Vishnu Vardhan were set to take on Dutch pair Robin Hasse and Jean-Julien Rojer while Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna were pitted against Max Mirnyi and Alexander Bury of Belarus.
Vardhan was also set to take on Blaz Kavicic of Slovenia in the first round. Vardhan got a lucky place in the men`s singles draw replacing German Philipp Kohlschreiber who pulled out of the Olympics with a hamstring injury.