Thu, May 25, 2017 | updated 08:32 AM IST

Pistol shooter Jitu Rai's meltdown a huge blow to India's hopes as hockey saves the day

Updated: Aug 07, 2016 11:09 IST      
Pistol shooter Jitu Rai's meltdown a huge blow to India's hopes as hockey saves the day

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Aug.7 (ANI): World number three ranked air pistol shooter Jitu Rai's meltdown in the finals of the 10-metre event on Saturday was a huge blow to India's hopes of launching the 31st Olympic Games with a medal on the opening day, where the redeeming feature was a narrow 3-2 victory for the men's hockey team against debutants Ireland.

Rai did well to recover from some initial blues to strike form and make the final with outstanding marksmanship towards the end of the qualification round. The new shooting rules makes the shooters start the final round with a clean slate, so any poor scores in the qualification round do not matter.

But the new rule was of little benefit to Rai, the 28-year-old Gorkha Rifles soldier, who made his exit from the first elimination round after firing three poor shots in a row to exit with a modest score of 78.7 points.

Vitenam's Hoang Xuan Vinh (202.5 point) struck gold in the event that was decided on the last shot as he overcame the miniscule margin he had conceded to Brazil's local favorite Felipe Almeida Wu with a composed final shot. Wu (202.1 points) settled for the silver, while China's Pang Wei got the bronze.

Rai's medal aspiration in these Olympic are not over yet. Ranked number two in the world in the 50-metre air pistol event, he will have his change for redemption soon.

A chance to redeem himself will also come the way of Rai's teammate Gurpreet Singh, who failed to make the final of the 10-metre event. Gurpreet, also an Armyman, finished 20th with 576 points in the qualification round.

Young Apurvi Chandela suffered the pangs that several athletes have experienced in the past. The big stage moment takes a lot from debutants to take the podium at the Olympic Games on their maiden appearance.

Apurvi failed to reproduce the form that had earned her qualification for the Olympics as she finished 34th in the qualification round with a score of 411.6 points in the 10-metre air rifle event.

Her teammate, Ayonika Paul logged 403 points to end in the 47th position. The Rio de Janeiro Olympics have ended for these two girls.

"My mind's gone blank," said Apurvi, the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist who seemed dejected at her own performance. She was tipped to do much better than her qualification round show.

India's narrow hockey win the only highlight on a disappointing opening day, and here too India allowed Ireland, playing their first-ever match in the Olympic Games, to come close to equalizing in the last stages.

Despite being confronted with Irish captain David Harte, acknowledged as one of the best goalkeepers in international hockey, India scored all their three goals on penalty corners. V.R. Raghunath opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a low drag flick into the left corner or the goal. Rupinder Pal Singh scored the other two Indian goals through drag flicks in the 27th the 49th minutes, but they were separated by Ireland's first goal through John Jermyn in the 45th.

Conor Harte then capitalized in goalmouth scrimmage during an Irish penalty corner in the 56th minute and India had to fall back to defend their goal in the last four minute against a resurgent Ireland.

"Three points in the first outing is not what India has been accustomed to for a long time," said Raghunath, asserting that this was the first match victory in the Olympics for India, who did not qualify in 2008 and suffered embarrassing defeats in all their seven games at the London Olympics in 2012.

The other redeeming feature for India came from lone rower Dattu Bhokanal, who qualified for the final in the Singles Skulls event by finishing third in heats, logging a combined time of 7:21.67 over three distances - 500 metres, 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres.

India's only women's weightlifter competing in these Olympics, Mirabai Chanu crashed out of the 48 kg event.

Chanu failed to record a score to her credit as the faltered with all attempt in Clean and Jerk, after lifting 82 kg in Snatch.

Two of India's three tennis doubles teams made their exit on the opening day.

Sania Mirza, rated as the number one doubles player in the world these days, and her partner Prarthana Thombare, were pushed back by the duo of Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai after winning the first game through a tiebreaker. The Chinese duo prevailed 6-7 (6), 5-7, 7-5 in an encounter that stretched to two hours and 44 minutes.

Mirza still has to play in the mixed doubles team, where her partner will be Rohan Bopanna. A lot is expected from the Mirza-Bopanna pair.

Bopanna also featured on the losing side in the men's doubles where he formed a pair with Leander Paes, whose seventh Olympic appearance ended on the first day itself.

It was the Polish pair Lukasz Kubot and Marci Matsowski that prevailed 4-6, 6-7 through some fine tennis against Paes and Bopanna.

In table tennis, the Indian challenge ended in both men and women's singles event.

In men's singles, Achanta Sharat Kamal suffered a 8-11, 12-14, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11 loss to Romanian Adrian Crisian, while Soumyajit Ghosh lost 8-11, 6-11, 14-12, 6-11, 11-13 to Thailand's Padasak Tanviriyavechakul.

In women's event, Manika Batra was defeated over four sets by Polish Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc. Manika lost 12-10, 6-11, 12-14, 11-8, 4-11, 12-14. Mouma Das suffered a 2-11, 7-11, 7-11, 3-11 against Daniela Monteiro Dodean of Romania. (ANI)

Adam Milne to join Kent after Champions Trophy

Updated: May 25, 2017 06:34 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 25 (ANI): New Zealand fast bowler Adam Milne has signed for Kent and will join their squad after representing his national side at the Champions Trophy in England and Wales, scheduled for June 1-18.

Full Story >>

Johannesburg [South Africa], May 25 (ANI): World No. 1 Andy Murray has been surprised by Novak Djokovic's decision to appoint Andre Agassi as coach for the upcoming French Open, but believes it's "a positive thing for Novak and its good for tennis".

Full Story >>

Irfan Pathan backs India to defend Champions Trophy title

Updated: May 25, 2017 04:19 IST     

Karachi [Pakistan], May 25 (ANI): Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan has backed the Virat Kohli-led side to successfully defend the Champions Trophy beginning June 1 in England and Wales.

Full Story >>

Stockholm [Sweden], May 25 (ANI): Manchester United on Wednesday evening defeated Ajax 2-0 in Stockholm courtesy goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to win the Europa League, thus confirming their qualification for the Champions League next season.

Full Story >>

Morgan, Woakes star in England's win over Proteas in 1st ODI

Updated: May 25, 2017 02:40 IST     

Leeds [UK], May 25 (ANI): Stellar performances from Eoin Morgan and Chris Woakes helped England attain a comfortable 72-run win over South Africa in the first ODI of the three-match series here at Headingley, Leeds on Wednesday.

Full Story >>

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], May 25 (ANI): Ace Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is hoping to come up with some new tricks to pose challenge for the opposing batsmen in the upcoming Champions Trophy, beginning June 1 in England and Wales.

Full Story >>

India capable of competing against any team, says Constantine

Updated: May 25, 2017 01:43 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 25 (ANI): India football coach Stephen Constantine has insisted that the current team is capable of competing against any team in the world.

Full Story >>

Bangladesh register first away win against Black Caps

Updated: May 25, 2017 01:16 IST     

Dublin [Ireland], May 25 (ANI): Bangladesh defeated New Zealand by five wickets in the tri-series finale, including Ireland, on Wednesday at the Clontarf Cricket Club Ground, Dublin, thus registering their first away win against the Black Caps.

Full Story >>

Former Proteas batsman Jacques Rudolph announces retirement

Updated: May 25, 2017 00:41 IST     

Johannesburg [South Africa], May 25 (ANI): Former South Africa batsman Jacques Rudolph will retire from all forms of cricket by the end of the 2017 season.

Full Story >>

Smith exudes confidence ahead of Champions Trophy

Updated: May 25, 2017 00:22 IST     

London [UK] May 25 (ANI): Australian skipper Steve Smith has re-emphasised the importance of the Champions Trophy as he looks to maintain the impressive one-day form the country has shown over the past 20 years.

Full Story >>

Madrid [Spain], May 24 (ANI): The Supreme Court of Spain sentenced Argentine and Barcelona FC football star Lionel Messi to serve a 21-month jail sentence and pay a fine of 2.09 million Euro (USD 2.25 million) for tax fraud on Wednesday.

Full Story >>

15 wrestlers found dope positive have been suspended: NADA DG

Updated: May 24, 2017 21:37 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 24 (ANI): National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) Director General Navin Agarwal on Wednesday said nine powerlifters and six bodybuilders who were found dope positive during a routine check-up have been temporarily suspended.

Full Story >>

Need to bring stringent law against doping: Vijay Goel

Updated: May 24, 2017 19:16 IST     

New Delhi [India], May 24 (ANI): Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports Vijay Goel on Wednesday asserted that it is important to introduce a stringent law to prevent doping in sports.

Full Story >>

Mumbai [India], May 24 (ANI): With just few days left for the commencement of his side's Champions Trophy campaign against Pakistan ,Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday said that the match against the arch-rivals will be seen as just another game of cricket that everyone looks forward to.

Full Story >>

ICC announces three-year partnership with Hublot

Updated: May 24, 2017 18:34 IST     

Dubai [UAE], May 24 (ANI): The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced a long-term deal with luxury brand Hublot which will include all ICC events till 2020.

Full Story >>

Kyrgios exits Lyon Open in first round

Updated: May 24, 2017 16:47 IST     

Lyon [France], May 24 (ANI): Controversial Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios suffered a major setback in his preparations for the French Open when he was knocked out of the Lyon Open by Nicolas Kicker of Argentina in the first round.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 24 (ANI): After Indian opener Rohit Sharma guided Mumbai Indians to yet another Indian Premier League (IPL) title, his wife Ritika Sajdeh has congratulated him and the entire team on bringing the cup back home.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 24 (ANI): Hockey India on Wednesday named potential players in the making for the national camp for Junior Men and Women based on their performances in the recently-concluded National Championships.

Full Story >>

Four PSL3 matches to be held in Karachi, Lahore: Najam Sethi

Updated: May 24, 2017 14:20 IST     

Karachi [Pakistan], May 24 (ANI): Pakistan Super League (PSL) chairman Najam Sethi has vowed that he will try to bring at least eight matches in Pakistan in the upcoming edition, unlike the second season of the tournament, in which only the final was staged in Lahore.

Full Story >>

New Delhi [India], May 24 (ANI): Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has felicitated Abhishek Verma, Income Tax Inspector at the national capital, after the team comprising the latter clinched a gold medal in the men's compound team event at the season's first Archery World Cup in Shanghai.

Full Story >>