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Independence Day turned out to be a jinx for Indian athletes competing today, as medal hopefuls Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi were annihilated in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 in the Tennis Men's Doubles quarterfinals. The match which continued from 4-1 in the first set after being rescheduled due to last nights rain, saw the Swiss pai of Federer and Wawrinka take no prisoners as they quickly wrapped up the first set breaking Leander's serve at 5-2. The second set went completely to serve till the fateful 10th game when the Indian duo just couldn't handle the pace and precision of their opponents passing shots. In all fariness the Indian pair never really challenged the no. 4 seeds and in fact didn't have a single break opportunity in the match.
With both players now in their mid thirties, one wonders if this is the last we will see of the greatest Indian doubles team of all time and whether this defeat will see them head their separate ways for the last time. Inspite of their acrimonius relationship, Leander and Mahesh have always put their country first and served India with tremendous pride. Thanks men, it's been a privilege.
In the final classification round of the rowing, Indian hope Bajrang Lal Takhar pulled out all the stops as he competed for positions 19 - 24. Bajrang Lal tried valiantly and was in the lead from the start of the race till about 1700 metres whenÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â he completely ran out of gas as Uruguan Leandro Salvagno and Hiu Fung Law (Hong Kong), made aÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â dash to the line andÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â beat the Indian rower by a few lengths in the 2000 metre race.
In this, his last race of the games, he clocked his best time by far, recording a 7:09.73, shaving a full 30 seconds of his start time in the first race of the tournament. Bajrang's times have improved steadily over the course of the games, and inspite of finishing a disappointing 21st overall, one wonders how much better might he have done if he had shown this pace at the start of the tournament. Surely the greatest need for top Indian athletes to improve their pedigree is regular competition with the best in the world.
Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Earlier in the day shooters Gagan Narang and Sanjeev Rajput crashed out of the 50 metre air rifle prone. Rajput scored aÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â decent 591Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â (out of 600)Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â to finish 26th. Narang who has had a rather disappointing games by his high standards shot a 589 to finish 35th. Artur Ayvazian topped the qualifying rounds shooting an outstanding 599, unluckily missing a perfect score by shooting a 99 in his last round.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â Both Indians still have one event left, the 50 m air rifle 3 pos. scheduled to start on the 17th of August.
Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â The Indian women athletics team debuted miserably at the games today - discus throwers Krishna Poonia & Harwant Kaur, 10,000m runner Preeja Sreedharan and hepathlon trio J J Shobha, Sushmita Singh Roy and G G Pramila all struggled in their respective events.
Krishna and Harwant threw a distance of 58.23Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â and 56.42 respectively toÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â finish miles out of contention for the qualification berths to the finals. Stephanie Brown Trafton led the heats with a throw of 62.77. Qualifying in 10th and last spot for the finals was home town favourite Yanfeng Li of China with a impressive 61.29. Despite the average showing, it wouldn't surprise us if the girls were to do rather well in the Commonwealth Games, as there were not too many Ccommonwealth nations who fared better than the Indian duo in the event.
Humble long-distance runner Preeja Sreedharan ran well off the pace and would be a tad disappointed with her performance in the Women's 10,000 meters. Though not a medal challenger by a long shot, the 26 year old has been training hard for the event and had actually clockedÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â her personal best time of 32:04 in June in the run-up to the games. Her 32:34 today was only good enough for 25th place.
The Heptathlon is one of the most gruelling of events in the Olympics and it is heartening to see three Indian women participating in it. The best of them on day 1 was J J Shobha who is at 29th place after four events. Pramila and Sushmita are at 32nd and 34th place respectively. The events already having taken place are the two sprint events - 100 metre hurdles and 200 metres; the High Jump and the Shot Put. Hyleas FountainÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â of the United States in the intermediate leader by a narrow 64 points from Nataliia Dobyrnska of Ukraine.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Shobha particularly lost out due to a terrible showing in the High Jump where she could only cross a height of 1.65m as a result of which she earned only 795 points in that round and was placed 36th in the event. Pramila and Sushmita on the other hand both fared rather poorly in both the Hurdles and Shot Put, pushing them into the thirties. The highlight of the day was Sushmita's performance in the 200m where she came 10th.Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â
Tomorrow the Javelin Throw, Long Jump and 800 metres will be held.