India had a mixed day at the Rio Olympics on Saturday with the men’s hockey team and rower Dattu Baban Bhokanal tasting success while the women shooters and paddlers and the tennis duo of Leander Paes and Bopanna proved to be a disappointment.
India began their men’s hockey campaign with a morale boosting 3-2 win against Ireland in their opening pool encounter.
Rupinder Pal Singh (27th and 49th minutes) scored a brace while V.R. Raghunath (15th) opened the scoring for the eight time gold medallists.
John Jermyn (45th) and Conor Harte (55th) reduced the margin for the Irishmen in the Pool B match.
India’s next match is against two-time defending champions Germany on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Bhokanal produced a pleasant surprise in the men’s single sculls event 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 here.
The Maharashtra lad 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.
Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez finished first clocking 7:06.89 followed by Carlos (7:08.27).
But Indian fans had to taste disappointment in the other events of the day as the men’s doubles combination of Paes and Bopanna crashed out the first round.
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.
Kubot-Matkowski will play the winners of the match between eighth seeded Spanish pair of Roberto Agut Bautista and David Ferrer and Czech Republic’s Lukas Rosol and Radek Stepanek in the second round.
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.
China’s Du Li entered the quarter-finals, bagging the top spot with a score of 420.7, setting a new Olympic record at the event. Germany’s Barbara Engleder took the second spot with 420.3 while Iran’s Elaheh Ahmadi was third with 417.8.
Apart from the top three, a Russian, two Americans, a Croatian and another Chinese shooter completed the top eight line-up.
“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 Chandela said before proceeding to see the finals of the competition with her physio Nikhil Ajit Latey, which was won by Virginia Thrasher of the US with a score of 208.
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. Paul, who too watched the finals from the rear gallery, did not want to comment.
In table tennis, Mouma Das crashed out in the first round of the women’s singles after a rather one-sided 2-11, 7-11, 7-11, 3-11 loss to Daniela Monteiro Dodean of Romania.