Rio de Janeiro: The shuttlers led by Saina Nehwal will make their first appearance in the Olympic Games here on Thursday along with men golfers as India still waits for its first medal after five days of fruitless labour in this Brazilian city.
All seven shuttlers, three in singles and the rest in doubles, will play their first round matches on Thursday while golfers Anirban Lahiri and S P Chawrasia would battle their opponents as well as weather and course conditions on day one of the stroke-play golf competition that gets underway.
Saina, India’s first-ever medal winner in badminton four years ago in London, should have little trouble in disposing off her Brazilian rival Lohaynny Vicente while the other shuttler in women’s singles, P V Sindhu, too would be fancying her chances against Hungary’s Laura Sarosi. K Srikanth, in men’s singles, B S Reddy and Manu Attri (men’s doubles) and Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa (women’s doubles) would also be seen on the court.
Woman archer Laishram Bombayla Devi takes on Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia in her pre-quarterfinal clash, the men’s hockey squad would be up against the might of The Netherlands in their fourth pool game while boxer Shiva Thapa would match mitts with Cuba’s R Ramirez in round two of 56 kg competition. In tennis, Sania Mirza teams up with Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles first round clash against the Australian pair of Samantha Stosur and Jimmy Peers.
Yesterday, after the elimination of medal hope Jitu Rai in 50m pistol shooting and the 1-6 thrashing of the women’s hockey team by Australia, it was left to Bombayla and Deepika Kumari in women’s archery and boxer Manoj Kumar to lift the sagging Indian spirits with some energetic victories. The two women archers were on target in the individual events to romp into the pre quarter finals, while Manoj Kumar scripted a triumph of the underdog in the boxing ring.
Manoj stunned London Olympics’ lightweight bronze medallist Evaldas Petrauskas 2-1 in the opening round of the light welterweight (64kg) category. Bombayla, who finished 24th in the ranking round, dished out a dominating show to get the better of Chinese Taipei’s Lin Shih-Chia 6-2 in the 1/16 elimination after beating Austria’s Laurence Baldauff in 1/32 elimination round.
Deepika also put up an excellent show as she comprehensively defeated Italy’s. Sartori Guendalina 6-2 in the 1/16 elimination after prevailing over her opponent from Georgia, Kristine Esebua, 6-4 in the 1/32 elimination round.