For the investments India made, the returns were meagre

There were a few heroes and heroines, but Indian sports definitely missed the Olympic gold.

After setting the gold standard through shooter Abhinav Bindra in Beijing, it was difficult to be excited about two silver and four bronze medals from the London Games.

For the talent India has and the investments the country made in providing the best of support and expertise for the athletes, the returns were meagre.

Of course, there is no point being upset about winning only six medals, for India had won only six medals overall in the last four editions.

Since we know that many potential champions failed to medal, the number may not look encouraging in terms of a realistic assessment.

The whole country erupted in celebration as wrestler Sushil Kumar clinched his second Olympic medal, a silver to go with the bronze he won in Beijing four years ago. Sushil gave a fitting finish to the Games, though it must be added that he was capable of winning the gold.

In fact, there was some progress in wrestling as Yogeshwar Dutt, a quarterfinalist last time, battled career-threatening injuries to bag a bronze. If a little more attention is paid towards keeping the expert coaches on such important assignments, the development would be a lot better.

Saina, Mary sizzle

Badminton queen Saina Nehwal acquitted herself well while claiming the bronze. It was the only new sport that added to the medal kitty compared to shooting, boxing and wrestling which won medals in Beijing.

It was woman power for India at these Games, as five-time world champion Mary Kom salvaged some pride for the boxing squad with a bronze. She displayed courage and resolve while winning a medal.

Seven men boxers, including Asian Games gold medallists Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan, failed to add to their world championship bronze. There were controversies in the boxing ring, too, as Vikas, who won his bout 13-11, was declared a 13-15 loser after a protest and review.

The shooters could have done better. Gagan Narang achieved his long-standing dream of winning an Olympic medal.Abhinav Bindra was on track before the last series spoilt his show.

Vijay Kumar was a revelation, as he understood the intricacies of rapid fire pistol and went on to claim a medal. Joydeep Karmakar, a rank outsider, was brilliant while finishing fourth in the rifle prone event.

Ronjan Sodhi, the most accomplished Indian shooter in recent times with the Asian Games gold and the World Cup Finals gold medals in the last two editions, faltered on the last three stations, missing four of the six birds. This stopped him from making the final.

Former world champion Manavjit Singh Sandhu was not at his best in just one round, and that spoilt his chances of making the trap final.

Drawing a blank

Despite all the controversies, one expected a medal from the mixed doubles tennis combination of Sania Mirza and Leander Paes, but they went down fighting in the quarterfinals to the eventual champions, the top-seeded Victoria Azarenka and Max Mirnyi of Belarus.

The Indian pair had beaten Ana Ivanovic and Nenad Zimonjic in the first round in a draw of 16.

Though Paes could not add to his Atlanta bronze in singles, he played his heart out with rookie Vishnu Vardhan against the eventual silver medallists, Michael Llodra and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in the pre-quarterfinals. Vishnu rose to the occasion to play the match of his life.

Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna lost to the eventual bronze medallists, Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau of France, after beating Mirnyi and Alexander Bury in a high quality performance in which the Indian pair did not drop serve at all.

Archery was a great disappointment as the men and women fumbled in both the individual and team sections. Though world No. 1 Deepika Kumari could be forgiven as she’s only 18 and was getting the first taste of the Olympics, the rest were quite capable and experienced.

Indian archery would do well to stick to the Korean experts a lot more rather than get carried away by all the other achievements around the world.

The Indian athletes did a fairly good job with Krishna Poonia (discus) finishing seventh, Vikas Gowda (discus) eighth and walker K.T. Irfan 10th. A better show was expected from 800m runner Tintu Luka, who placed 11th and missed out on a berth in the final.

There was a wrong projection about the capabilities of the weightlifters, Soniya Chanu and K. Ravi Kumar, and reality may have been a bit harsh to digest.

Rock-bottom

The hockey team finished at the bottom in a field of 12, and realised the futility of being carried away by a simple thing as qualifying for the Olympics.

For people who remember that India has won eight gold medals in the sport in the Olympics, it was the toughest pill to swallow during the Games.

Not much was expected from the rowers, the young table tennis players, the lone swimmer and a judoka.

Winning six medals is not a bad achievement, though everyone is inclined to say ‘give me gold!’

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