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Smashing show by Sindhu lights up India’s day at Tokyo Olympic Games

A hat-trick of Olympic medals in badminton seems to be very much on the cards for India along with a second consecutive podium finish for P V Sindhu at the Tokyo Olympic Games (IANS photo)

On a day boxer Lovlina Borgohain assured India its second medal at the ongoing Tokyo Olympic Games, shuttler P V Sindhu and the Indian women's hockey team also put up a stellar show to keep alive hopes of the country moving further up in the medal's tally.

In the final event of the day for the Indians, the men's hockey team, having already entered the knockout stage of the tournament, beat hosts Japan 5-3 to finish second in their pool. Harmanpreet, Gurjant (brace), Simranjeet and Nilakanta were the goal scorers for India in their last pool encounter.

2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Sindhu beat local favourite Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 21-13, 22-20 in a thrilling quarterfinal contest to enter the semifinals of the individual event at Tokyo Games.

With the kind of form ace Indian shuttler has displayed so far, a hat-trick of Olympic medals in badminton seems to be very much on the cards for India along with a second consecutive podium finish for Sindhu.  

After Saina Nehwal became the first Indian badminton player to win an Olympic medal at the 2012 London Games, Sindhu's silver at Rio was one of the only two medals the entire Indian Olympic contingent could manage to get in the last edition of the Games.

India is at least assured of equalling that tally at Tokyo after weightlifter Mirabai Chanu won a silver on the opening day of the Games in Tokyo and pugilist Lovlina entered the semifinals of the women's welter (64-69kg) category after beating Taiwanese boxing star Nien-Chin Chen 4-1 today.

The first woman boxer from Assam to qualify for Olympics, and the only sportsperson from the state competing in Tokyo, Lovlina is assured of at least an Olympic bronze as both losing semi-finalists get a medal at the Games.
She now takes on Turkey's world number one Busenaz Surmeneli in the semifinal bout on August 4.

India has two medals in boxing at the Olympic Games till now with Vijender Singh winning the bronze in 2008 and Mary Kom adding the second bronze to the tally in 2012.

Also Read: Lovlina makes history on Olympic debut, assures India another medal in Tokyo

Meanwhile, India's women kept their Olympic dreams alive at the Oi Hockey Stadium with a dramatic 1-0 victory against Ireland. Navneet Kaur's winner against Ireland came in the dying minutes of the game and kept the team in competition just when elimination seemed certain.
A draw or defeat would have resulted in India’s elimination, but Kaur’s fine close-range deflection proved to be enough for a crucial three points against a team who now sit above them only on goal difference.

Ireland – who needed a point to secure their progress into the knock-out stage – produced a magnificent defensive display throughout the match, with goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran the star of the show as her team kept out a staggering 14 penalty corner opportunities. It seemed that their wastefulness was going to cost them dearly, but Navneet Kaur’s clever touch on team captain Rani’s dangerous cross-shot was enough to maintain India’s dreams of reaching the competition quarter finals with one round of matches left to play.

India takes on the already eliminated South Africa in their final pool match, with Ireland facing a tough encounter against Great Britain.  

"We had so many penalty corners and Ireland defended well. We had so many opportunities but missed them. There was a lot of pressure because this was a must-win game for both teams. And I am so proud because we stayed calm," Indian captain Rani Rampal said after the match.

The day also witnessed a string of disappointing performances by the Indians in other disciplines.

Archer Deepika Kumari bowed out of her third Olympics after losing the quarterfinal match against An San of South Korea and shooters Manu Bhaker and Rahi Sarnobat also head back home after an average showing in the 25m pistol event.

In athletics, sprinter Dutee Chand clocked 11.54 seconds to finish 45th overall among 54 competitors in the 100m event.
Avinash Sable set a new national record in men's 3000m steeplechase heats but failed to reach the final.

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