Gymnast Dipa Finishes Fourth On Disastrous Day For India
Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza lose in the bronze medal play-off; men's hockey squad bundled out of the competition by Belgium
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Gymnast Dipa Karmakar narrowly missed the bronze by finishing fourth in the women's vault event even as shuttler Saina Nehwal, the men's hockey team and tennis pair of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna crashed out on a dismal day for India at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Dipa, from the north eastern state Tripura, emerged as one of the few shining spots on a disastrous campaign as she ended up just outside a medal bracket with 15.066 points after putting on a superb display in the eight-woman vault final.
The gold expectedly went to favourite Simon Biles from the US who topped the table with near-flawless execution which fetched her the highest score of 15.966.
The silver went to Russia's Maria Paseka (15.253) and the bronze was bagged by Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland (15.216).
Dipa's superb show in a sport that is not popular in the country lit up the gloomy day which started with the the exit of London Games bronze medal winner Saina to further dampen the spirits of the contingent on the ninth day of competitions.
Saina, who was carrying a knee injury into the quadrennial sports spectacle, lost 18-21 19-21 to lower ranked rival Maria Ulitina from Ukraine to make a shock exit.
Two other shuttlers remaining in the fray, K Srikanth and P V Sindhu, atoned somewhat for Saina's exit by reaching the pre-quarterfinals from their respective groups in men's and women's singles.
But more disappointment was in store for the contingent when mixed doubles medal hopes - Bopanna and Sania - lost in the bronze medal play-off in straight sets to the Czech pair of Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradceka.
Trying hard to hold back tears, an emotional Sania was at loss of words in explaining the defeat with partner Bopanna.
The fourth seed Indian duo of Sania and Bopanna lost the bronze play-off to Czech pair of Hradecka and Stepanek 1-6 5-7.
Sania, who is already 29 and has recoverd from three career-threarening injuries, knows that it was her last and best chance to win an Olympic medal.
"It's tough and not easy to speak right now. We have to accept it and move on," a teary-eyed Sania told reporters.
"I don't know, it's just hard. Olympics come in four years. I don't know if I will be able to play tennis in four years again," she said.
To add insult to injury, the men's hockey squad, which had qualified for the knock-out phase after 36 years, was bundled out of the competition by Belgium which inflicted a 3-1 defeat.
A lackluster India squandered a one goal advantage and blew away a great opportunity to create history after a hiatus of 36 years to climb the medal podium.
Belgium, on the other hand, scripted history as they progressed to the semi-finals of the Olympics after a gap of 96 years.
India took the lead through a fine field effort from Akashdeep Singh (15th minute) before Belgium pumped in three field goals from Sebastien Dockier (34th, 45th) and Tom Boon (50th) to dash India's hopes of their first medal after the gold in 1980 at Moscow.
Having topped Pool A, Belgium were the favourites to win the encounter and they played like champions dominating the proceedings for most part of the game barring a few minutes in the second quarter after India took the lead late in the first quarter.
India, on the other hand, looked completely out of sorts as they played catch-up hockey.
Rifle shooters Gagan Narang and Chain Singh failed to progress to the finals of the men's rifle 50m 3-position to crash out of the competition and end India's campaign in Olympic Games shooting on a dismal note.
Narang, a bronze medalist in the London Games four years ago in men's 10m air rifle, ended up even behind Chain Singh, who was 23rd, in the 33rd spot out of 44 shooters with a three-phase tally of 1162 while Chain accumulated 1169.