Rio 2016 | Sakshi Malik wins India's first medal; Kidambi Srikanth goes down fighting on Day 12

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Rio 2016 | Sakshi Malik wins India's first medal; Kidambi Srikanth goes down fighting on Day 12

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SportsCafe Desk

08/18/2016

Finally, the wait is over! Sakshi Malik defeated Aysuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan to win the bronze in women's freestyle 58kg wrestling event, and secured India first medal at the Rio Olympics. Meanwhile, Kidambi Srikanth lost his quarter-final match to Lin Dan of China in a tight three-setter.

Wrestling

India’s hopes of securing a medal in women’s freestyle wrestling 48kg category went up in smokes yesterday after Vinesh Phogat bowed out in the quarters of the event due to an injury. Vinesh Phogat started the day on a positive note Romania’s Emilia Alina Vuc by great superiority (11-0) in the Round of 16. In the quarter-final bout she took on China’s Sun Yanan, and had a 1-0 lead in the first round, but an unfortunate knee injury during the bout ended her hopes of a medal. She was stretchered off the ring, and the bout was awarded to the Chinese grappler after Vinesh was unable to continue.

Sakshi Malik, who won her qualification round bout 5-4 against Sweden's Malin Johanna Mattson and the Round of 16 match against Mariana Cherdivara Esanu of Republic of Moldova 5-5 (on the basis of highest class points), bowed out of the quarters after losing to Russia's Valeria Koblova 2-9.

However, she got another chance to win a bronze medal after the Russia made it to the final of the event.

Sakshi won a one-sided contest against Orkhon Purevdorj of Mongolia 12-3 to enter the bronze-medal bout. It was an even contest at the end of Period 2 at 2-2 apiece, but Sakshi went for the kill in the second and took down the Mongolian, again and again, to win 10 points to her opponent's single point.

India's 12-day wait for an Olympic medal finally ended after Sakshi Malik won her bronze-medal match in the 58kg wrestling category with a comeback in the final minute to win 8-5 against Aysuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan. From being a last-minute replacement to the Rio games, Sakshi has become India's first medallist at the Games.

Badminton

Kidambi Srikanth, ranked no.11 in the world, came back from a set down to challenge the two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in the quarter-final before going down fighting in the decider. Srikanth lost the match 6-21, 21-11, 18-21 in 64 minutes to bow out after playing the game of his life.

After convincingly getting past the Super Dane in the pre-quarters, India’s Kidambi Srikanth took on the Super Dan, hoping to become the first-ever Indian men’s singles player to reach the semi-finals of the Olympics. Another big performance was needed to make it to the last-four, and Srikanth started on a good note with a first-time smash to signal his intent. However, that proved to be the only good thing that happened to the Indian before the break in the opening set.

On the other hand, the champion was in full flow. He waited and waited for his opponent to make the mistake, and finished it with his classic cross-court smashes when he got the chance. Srikanth played to Lin Dan’s strengths and kept on smashing, only to find the shuttlecock coming back every time. The 32-year-old Chinese did not allow an inch for the Indian, and took the opening set 21-6 in 16 minutes to roll like a juggernaut into the second set.

Srikanth started the second set in a similar fashion as he started the first, and won the opening point by flicking one to the backcourt after Lin Dan saved a cross-court smash with a full-length dive. It seemed like the Indian had learned his lessons from the opening set, and rather than going for first-time smashes, he employed a similar strategy as his opponent and waited for a mistake.

The patient play from Srikanth unsettled the champion, and with Lin Dan on the back foot, the Indian upped the ante with some powerful smashes to take a 17-9 lead. Srikanth wasted no time to finish off the set, and took it 21-11 with a jump cross-court smash, which left Lin Dan rooted to the court.

Unlike the first two sets, the first point of the decider went to the Chinese after a smash from Srikanth found the net. At 9-8, Srikanth took the lead after Lin Dan flicked one out of the court, and went into the break with a three-point lead after a jump smash beat the full-length dive of the World No.3.

The Indian extended his lead to 13-10 after the break, but the Chinese shuttler was not ready to go down without a fight. A wayward smash, and two mistakes near the net made it 16-14 in favour of the champion and all of a sudden the pressure was back. The champion continued to pick up points here and there, and another wayward smash gave the two-time defending a 19-17 lead. Another rushed shot gave the Chinese the match point, and although he saved one, Lin Dan finished it in the next point to enter his third successive semi-finals in the Olympics.

Athletics

In women’s 800m, PT Usha’s protégé, Tintu Luka, finished in sixth position in her heats with a timing of 2:00.58 and finished 29th overall to miss out on the semi-final of the event.

Golf

In women’s golf, India's Aditi Ashok finished in joint-seventh place with a score of three under par at the end of Day 1. Overnight leaders Inbee Park and Ariya Jutanugarn are at the top with a score of five under par.

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