It was day 9 and the Indian contingent was cutting a sorry figure at 62nd position courtesy of Mirabai Chanu‘s silver on opening day. All said there were five events and in one of India was eyeing a medal. Satish Kumar cleared his medical test and fought admirably against a no 1 ranked Uzbekistan boxer before bowing out. In Golf and Equestrian, nothing was expected. In the second half of the day, two important matches were scheduled. Sindhu was eyeing history in her bronze medal match against Bing Jaio. Jaio is a Southpaw and was going to be a tricky opponent for Sindhu.
Sindhu was expected to win gold but after dreams were shattered by a Tai Zyu Ying, there was another chance for redemption. Very difficult to motivate yourself after losing a big match. PV Sindhu was up for it and there were moments when Jaio tried to stage a comeback but Sindhu did not allow her to call the shots and played the rallies well. Drop shots,cross-court smashes, down-the-line smashes and what not. Sindhu’s intent clearly explained her winning mentality. She won in straight sets and thus became only the second individual double Olympic medalist. She is still 26 and can play two more Olympics (injury-free) and can give try for the elusive gold medal.
Indian men’s hockey team was going to play the most important match against Great Britain as a win would have ensured a semifinal entry, first in 41 years or after 9 Olympics. The Indian team went in with the strategy of playing the counter-attacking game and it paid rich dividends as I’d Ka raced to a 2-0 lead by end of the second quarter with Dilpreet and Gurjant scoring in each quarter. Things looked very bright and India was in complete control. The defense was holding its shape and then the last man of defense in Sreejesh ensuring opposition did not score any of their penalty corners.
Many would have thought that the Indian team will see the match out but GBR was not ready to throw in the towel. They put the Indian team under immense pressure with their relentless attack and managed to pull one goal back in the third quarter. With still 15 minutes to go for the final whistle and history not backing India in the dying minutes of the game, GBR went all-out offensive and India was running for cover. Skipper Manpreet got a yellow card which meant India had to play last 7 minutes with 10 men.
Past Indian team would have capitulated but this Indian team had guts to fight it out and on one counter-attacking move, Hardik scored a goal of the highest class, definitely a goal of Olympics candidate. The third goal completely killed GBR’s chances of coming back and India deservingly won the match and thereby ensuring a semifinal spot at the Olympics after a gap of 41 years. Harmanpreet’s tears said it all what this victory meant. Indian team should enjoy the moment today and be ready for Tuesday’s semifinal against Belgium. Semifinal against number 1 ranked team is not easy but then no match is easy in Olympics.
Sindhu became the first woman and second Indian athlete after Sushil Kumar to win two Olympic medals.She still has age on her side and many milestones that she should achieve if she remains injury-free. With Lovlina’s medal assured irrespective of colour,we have already bettered Rio count. We still have some events where we are medal contenders and with bit of good fortune we should get three or maybe four medals (fingers crossed)