The Indian contingent which had not entered the medal tally until day 12 returned back with smiles just due to some finishing glimpses from the wonder women gaining us some pride.
The 140 crore nation has sent a team of 124 athletes, a record highest number participating under the flag, had a hope of increasing the medal tally at London (2 silver, 4 bronze) into double figures but failed miserably in the pursuit.
Lets have a look at the 5 Biggest upsets that India faced in Rio 2016
Sania Mirza/ Rohan Bopanna:
The star duo were one of the sure-shot prospects for medal getting at Rio with Sania at the helm of women’s doubles rankings and Bopanna also at a descent 11. The pair had a good chemistry and looked in fine form until the second set of the semifinals against the seventh seeded Venus Williams/Rajeev Ram (USA) 6-2,2-6,3-10. The 4th seeded Indian pair took the first set with ease just to lose the second set in a pitiful way committing many unforced errors. The tie break also started 3-1 in favor of the Indians until Venus used all her experiences to play and gave her best to see off the Indians.
The Indians were strong favorites going into the Bronze medal match against 13th seeds Lucie Hradecka/Radek Stepanek (CZE) but played a game way below their potential losing in straight sets to finish 4th. For a team that played with ease and raised a lot of hopes of a Gold or at least a podium finish to lose out on a medal even after having an upper hand in the matches is a bitter heartbreak for the Indians.
This former World No.1 shuttler from India has redefined the status of the sport in the nation since the beginning of her career and the major contribution was through her Bronze at London 2012 at an early age of 22. Later she went on to be a lot matured and had major breakthroughs by being world no.1 for quite some time and winning silvers at the 2015 World Championships and 2015 All England (Only Indian to play a final in both events). All these developments saw her rise to the top of the badminton world and going into Rio was expected to make a better mark.
Even though the world No.5 was seeded 5th in the competitions, the hype created by Indian media about her statistical preparations for the games to reach the final had raised the hopes to a whole another level. But she was shown doors in the Group stage of the tournament itself after a shocking straight set loss to World No.61 Marina Ulitina of Ukraine (21-18, 21-19), putting an end to the Indian hopes just at the beginning.
A former World No.1 recurve archer and one of the best archers in the fray was expected to finish on the podium despite being the world No.5 because of her stellar performances in the recent times equalling Ki Bo Bae’s recurve world record of 686/720. She started off her campaign in team event alongside long time partners Lakshmi Rani Majhi and Bombayla Devi. They won their Round of 16 match against Columbia before losing in the quarterfinals to Russia, the eventual silver medallists. The team finally finished 7th in the event.
Deepika was expected to at least reach the semifinals in a relatively easy draw. She won against Kristine Esebua of Lithuania(6-4) in the round of 64, over Guendalina Sartori of Italy (6-2) after losing the first set and winning the next three in the round of 32. However, in the round of 16, Deepika went down to Taipei’s Tan Ya-ting with a score of 0 against 6. Tan Ya-Ting was a member of the Taipei team that won Bronze at Rio 2016 days earlier but was a junior archer as compared to Deepika and it was heartbreak for a lot of Indians as the image created about Deepika raised a lot of hopes for an Olympic medal.
The performance by our shooters has made Indian fans so frustrated that the nation even stopped expecting any medals at the games. Shooting has always been a sport where Indians have been getting medals since the last 3 editions of the games (Lt.Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Double Trap Silver, Athens 2004, Abhinav Bindra, 10m Air Rifle Gold, Beijing 2008, Vijay Kumar, 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Silver and Gagan Narang, 10m Air Rifle Bronze, London 2012).
Gagan Narang was the first Indian to qualify to Rio along with 11 others, one more than the team to London 2012. Sadly Vijay Kumar missed out during the Asian Qualifiers in Delhi but he hoped the team would at least get 4 medals in this edition. The notable disappointing performances came from the decorated shooter Gagan Narang who even failed to make it to the finals of all the 3 events he qualified for (10m Air Rifle, 50m Rifle Prone, 50m Rifle 3-positions).
Another famous shooter Jitu Rai, who has been nominated for Rajiv Khel Ratna award this year for his tremendous performances pre-Rio and reaching a world rank as high as 3 also failed to make it to the 50m Pistol finals but finished last (8th) in the 10m Air Pistol finals after qualifying 6th. Former world No.1 Heena Sidhu has again under-performed for the nation failing to even make it to the finals of both the events she qualified for (10m Air Pistol-14th and 25m pistol-20th). Another medal prospect Abhinav Bindra was the lone bright spot in the contingent as he finished 4th in a nerve holding final where he came up with an inspiring performance in his 10m Air Rifle event in which he was a world and Olympic champion.
Rohan Bopanna/Leander Paes:
One is the world No.15 and the other the greatest doubles and mixed doubles player of all time and the winner of 18 grand slams! And these two are the best Indian tennis has and were expected to finish at least on the podium. But what poised it all was disgrace to the nation that the two had a bad on court chemistry due to off court controversies leading to a shocking first round exist in maybe the last Olympics for Paes who holds the record for being engaged in most editions of the games (7th straight, since 1992) and also bagged the only medal for the nation in tennis at the games way back in Atlanta 1996 in men’s singles. This time, arguably the favorites to get into medals tally exited losing to Matkowski and Kubot of Poland in straight sets putting the nation in a sea of sadness.
Some looked like unconscious mistakes, some looked like negligence and some were deliberate unprofessionalism but what happened finally, is that the nation suffered, not just in the medals tally but also the just growing sports culture and the inclination towards these not-so-popular-sports in India will surely be affected with such performances which gloom the bright stars amidst their dense dark fog.