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Tokyo Olympics | India breaks new ground, rekindles hope

With an almighty heave, Neeraj Chopra made history. His 87.58m throw in the men’s javelin event gave independent India her first Olympic medal in track and field.

Chopra’s gold also ensured India’s highest-ever medal tally at the Games (seven total), one better than the previous best achieved at London 2012.

The sparklers: Neeraj, Mirabai, Dahiya, Lovlina, Barjrang, Sindhu and the men’s hockey team made it an Olympics to remember.

The sparklers: Neeraj, Mirabai, Dahiya, Lovlina, Barjrang, Sindhu and the men’s hockey team made it an Olympics to remember.   | Photo Credit: BEN STANSALL

No Olympic sport captures the imagination of the nation quite like hockey. Nationalistic fervour reigned when the men’s team defeated Germany to win bronze — India’s first hockey medal since V. Baskaran’s men clinched gold in Moscow 1980. The women nearly made it a perfect outing, before suffering heartbreak at the hands of Great Britain in the third-place playoff match.

Mirabai Chanu provided the ideal start to the campaign, winning a weightlifting silver on the opening day. It was sweet redemption for the Manipuri athlete, who finished a bitterly disappointing 11th at Rio 2016.

Tokyo Olympics | India breaks new ground, rekindles hope

Boxer Lovlina Borgohain may have entered Tokyo in the shadow of her illustrious compatriot Mary Kom, but her bronze finish thrust her into the spotlight. The 23-year-old from Assam already has her sights set on gold at Paris 2024.

Tokyo Olympics | India breaks new ground, rekindles hope

P.V. Sindhu cemented her place among India’s greatest ever athletes by winning her second Olympic medal. Her bronze at Tokyo made her only the second Indian, after wrestler Sushil Kumar, to medal twice in individual events. The badminton boom in India is set to continue.

Tokyo Olympics | India breaks new ground, rekindles hope

Ravi Kumar Dahiya’s epic comeback win against Nurislam Sanayev in the men’s 57kg wrestling semifinal was one for the ages. Trailing 2-9 with just 90 seconds left, Dahiya closed the gap to 5-9 before pinning his Kazakh opponent to seal a dramatic win. Dahiya, who lost the final to two-time world champion Zavur Uguev, became the second Indian wrestler to win an Olympic silver after Sushil.

Tokyo Olympics | India breaks new ground, rekindles hope

If Dahiya needed to dig deep, Bajrang Punia’s 8-0 victory over Daulet Niyazbekov in the men’s 65kg wrestling bronze medal playoff was a one-sided masterclass. India’s proud record in the sport, kindled by K.D. Jadhav’s bronze in Helsinki 1952, remained intact.

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Bajrang Bajrang of Team india competes against Daulet Niyazbekov of Team Kazakhstan during the Men's Freestyle 65kg Bronze Medal Match on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on August 07, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 07: Bajrang Bajrang of Team india competes against Daulet Niyazbekov of Team Kazakhstan during the Men's Freestyle 65kg Bronze Medal Match on day fifteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Makuhari Messe Hall on August 07, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)   | Photo Credit: NAOMI BAKER

Aditi Ashok came close to pulling off the impossible, finishing just outside the medal bracket in the women’s golf tournament. A consistent Aditi started the final round in second spot, but a few missed putts and outstanding final flourishes from her rivals robbed her of the chance to gain India’s first ever Olympic medal in the sport.

Much was expected from the strong shooting contingent, led by Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary. The group, however, returned empty-handed. These are worrying times for the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), which had faced criticism when the shooters similarly drew a blank at Rio 2016.


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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 4:40:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/tokyo-olympics-india-breaks-new-ground-rekindles-hope/article35826516.ece

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