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Rio Olympics: India inching close to its worst-ever outing since 1992

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 16 August 2016, 20:03 IST

After a spectacular display in the 2012 London Olympics, the Indian athletes represented the hopes of a billion fans back home when they arrived in Rio de Janeiro for this year's Summer Games earlier in August.

The expectations were soaring high and fans were desperate to see the athletes repeat their London heroics where they won six medals - India's best in the Olympics. If that wasn't enough, the surveys of Goldman Sachs and Dartmouth College - predicting India to do better than their last Olympics - only urged the cricket-crazy nation to dream on.

But, none of the sports pundits or fans could have possibly predicted what really has unfolded so far in Brazil. The high of London four years ago is turning into a complete disaster in Rio.

India, for the last 10 days, has witnessed its athletes fall one after another while agonisingly waiting for its first medal in the ongoing Olympic Games. While some athletes came close to winning one, others suffered shock exits early on.

With each passing day, the hopes of winning that elusive medal are getting slimmer and the news, more traumatising.

Disappointments in Rio

Though India suffered more than just a few setbacks in Rio, the biggest disappointment was undoubtedly the shooters returning without a single medal. One of the brightest medal hopes, Abhinav Bindra was the lone shooter who managed the best finish - fourth in 10m air rifle - among all.

Jitu Rai, another big medal hope, failed miserably in his pet event, the 50m air pistol, where he failed to qualify for the final round. Amongst the women shooters, Heena Sidhu also disappointed with a mediocre performance in both 10m air pistol and 25m pistol events.

Saina Nehwal's ouster at the hands of world no. 61 Marija Ulitina came as the biggest shock, while men's hockey team, even if it wasn't really considered a medal hope, failed to survive the Belgian challenge in the quarterfinals.

Dipa Karmakar, country's first-ever female gymnast to compete in the Olympics, was the only Indian athlete who looked like she might bag a medal after she qualified for the women's vault final. But, the 23-year-old, along with a billion fans back home, suffered a heartbreak after she missed out on the medal by a mere 0.150 points.

India's misery at Olympics

Since India first participated in the world's premier sporting event in 1900, it has won 26 medals (9 gold, 6 silver and 11 bronze) - less than powerhouses like the US and China win in a single Olympics, on par with far smaller countries such as Thailand and Morocco.

Having participated in 33 Olympics so far, India averages 0.8 medals each Games. Despite being the second populous country after China, India ranks last in Olympic medal number when counting by population.

While it's a tad too early to predict the Indian contingent returning home with no medals, but if they do, it will be for the first time in 24 years and seventh overall. The last time India failed to win a single medal dates back to 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics.

Diminishing medal hopes

Despite a poor show so far, India still has six days left to clinch that elusive medal at the Rio Games. Wrestling and badminton remain the biggest medal hopes for India considering the ouster of some of the biggest names in the contingent lately.

A lot is expected from the London Olympics bronze medallist, Yogeshwar Dutt, who'll be seen competing in the men's freestyle 65kg event on 21 August. He'll be supported by the controversy-ridden Narsingh Yadav and dark horse Sandeep Tomar who'll sweat it out in the 57kg category.

On the other hand, shuttlers Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu have also kept India in fray for a medal. Both, Srikanth and Sindhu have stormed into the quarterfinals of men's and women's singles event respectively. However, the road ahead gets much tougher for both the Indian shuttlers.

Srikanth, who stunned fifth-seeded Dane Jan Jorgensen in Round of 16, will lock horns with two-time defending champion Lin Dan in the quarterfinals. Sindhu will also have to be at her prolific best when she meets second seed Wang Yihan in the quarters on 17 August.

India also has a few athletes scheduled to compete in the later stages of the Games, but a medal looks like a far-fetched dream. India's women's and men's 4x100mrelay team will compete on 20 August. Sandeep Kumar will feature in the men's 50km walk on 19 August.

What was once expected of India's largest-ever contingent has clearly not been executed and, medal or not, Rio Olympics will surely be considered as a big disappointment for a nation that houses a sixth of the world's population.

First published: 16 August 2016, 20:03 IST
 
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.

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