Saina adds to India’s cheer

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BIG SCALP: Saina Nehwal surprised Hong Kong’s Wang Chen in the badminton event of the Beijing Olympics.
BIG SCALP: Saina Nehwal surprised Hong Kong’s Wang Chen in the badminton event of the Beijing Olympics.

Special Correspondent

Sania Mirza retires from her singles match; doubles in jeopardy too

BEIJING: Saina Nehwal added to India’s cheer after its maiden Olympic gold medal by beating the fourth-seeded Chen Wang of Hong Kong 21-19, 11-21, 21-11 in the pre-quarterfinals of the women’s badminton competition on Monday.

Playing her first Olympics, Saina was able to lift her game against an opponent she has lost to twice before.

“I had no expectations. I never thought about winning. Was only keen on giving it a 100 per cent,” said Saina.

“Getting into the Olympics quarterfinals, I never would have dreamt of it before,” she said.

Her opponent conceded that she was too tired to try much in the third game.

“I did not have enough strength to win the last game. I regret it because this is my last Olympic Games as I am already 32. I expected to reach the quarters, and it is a pity that I couldn’t reach my target,” Chen said.

The 15th ranked Saina will now meet the 21st ranked Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia in the next round.

The bad news

There was not much good otherwise in the day from the Indian camp. The other Indian in the badminton championship, Anup Sridhar bowed in the second round, losing 21-13, 21-17 to Shoji Sato of Japan.

There was more bad news as Sania Mirza retired with a painful wrist while trailing 1-6, 1-2 against Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic in the first round of women’s tennis.

Sania’s doubles engagement alongside Sunitha Rao is also in suspense, pending medical advice. In fact, the Indian duo’s first round doubles opponent, Tatiana Golovin of France had pulled out earlier, as per an ITF release.

In swimming, Rehan Poncha finished second in his heat in the 200m butterfly with a timing of 2:01.89, to finish 40th overall. It was slower than his personal best of 2:01.40.

In rowing, Bajranglal Takhar finished fifth in the men’s single sculls quarterfinals. He will fight for the lower placements.

In sailing, Nachhatar Singh Johal finished 11th in the Finn race five, but 24th in the next race. He has five further races, to help him gain invaluable experience for the London Olympics.

Boxer A.L. Lakra lost 9-5 in the featherweight category to Bahodirjon of Uzbekistan, to be the second Indian boxer to bite the dust.

PTI adds

The first round had the Indian trailing 1-2 and the margin remained the same at the end of the second round with Lakra 3-4 behind.

Bahodirjon, a bantamweight bronze winner in Athens, relied on jabs and right crosses to unsettle Lakra.

Lakra did make it 5-5 in the third round but the Uzbek pugilist launched an aggressive assault in the final round to end Lakra’s hopes.

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