Firstly, I had serious withdrawal symptoms today. Over the past 2 weeks - waking up early - I had a small routine down pat. Check India's schedule for the day at the Olympics; look up details of the sportsperson performing; read up a little on the sport if I didn't know it; and; watch the action play out. It was tough not having that to wake up to any Olympics action. Luckily, it was a Sunday and we had folks over - so rode the day out. Would have been awesome to watch our cricket team (who I hadn't followed for the past few months) thrash the Englishmen - but true to our luck in sporting events lately, the English were saved by their weather and we ended up with nothing to show despite some good performances from Jadeja, Rahul and Bumrah.
Going into this Olympics, I must state that I was hopeful of this being our breakthrough games. Our shooting contingent was incredibly strong and used to winning consistently. Our archery team (although always inconsistent) seemed to be capable of throwing up at least 1 medal and I felt we had great chances in winning multiple medals in Boxing and Wrestling as well. Was vaguely optimistic about our chances in Men's hockey, Neeraj in Javelin and Sai Praneeth in Badminton as he seemed to have an easy draw. Didn't have much expectations from the Mens' doubles team and Sindhu in Badminton, our tennis team in Tennis, and the other Athletics events and niche sports. I felt that we should end up with around 15 medals overall with the lion's share coming from shooting - esp given the form the team showed in the 2 world cup events this year. At the worst I figured we should end up with a tally similar to London with perhaps a few golds.
The archery team disappointed in the ranking rounds as usual. Deepika wasn't too bad with 9th place - but the men's team was terrible. Que sera sera I figured - especially as we were bound to meet the Koreans in the Qtr finals. As usual they were clutch and occupied the top 3 spots. Medal expectations from Archery became 0.
Was hoping for 2 medals from the shooting team on the day. Day started depressingly with the shooting team with two top ranked shooters from India not making the finals in the rifle event. However, Saurabh Choudary was showing his pre-Olympics form and nailed his place in the final with a super qualification performance. One medal didn't seem so bad. Mixed Archery team raised expectations by beating Chinese Taipei and promptly dashed them by losing in the next round pathetically.
Didn't think much about about Mirabhai Chanu's chances in weightlifting esp given that she had been injured a year or so back. Was pleasantly shocked when she did so well! What a start we had to the Olympics! Medal expectations back up to 2 for the day! What a morale booster! Pumped to see India near the top of the medals table after just 2 medal events for the day!
Was hoping Manika Batra and Achanta re-discovered their amazing teamwork seen in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in TT - but after a lively start got thrashed by the Taipei team. Oh well - didn't have much expectations from them. Mens' double team raised expectations with a superb comeback win against the higher ranked Taipei team! That last game was awesome - winning it 27-25 after being down a couple of match points. Sai Praneeth losing to some unknown Israeli was a shocker too. More bad news to come with Saurabh crashing out at 7 in the shooting final was a major downer - but we still got a medal from unexpected quarters and the Badminton team looked good to qualify as well! Hockey team won 3-2 vs New Zealand. We had 2 TT wins in women's singles as well along with a win in Tennis.
Despite Vikas Krishan crashing out in Boxing in the first round and the women's team's loss to Netherlands 5-1, I had never seen so much action from the Indian team at an Olympics on one day - let alone so many winning starts along with a medal!
I thought 2 medals were a lock in today from Shooting. I dreamed of India floating at the top of the medals tally until the Swimming events and Athletics events started.
Terrible start to the day with 3 highly ranked shooting teams again failing to qualify for the finals. Esp disappointed with Manu's last shot 8 which prevented her from qualifying for the finals. Manika Batra, Sindhu and Mary Kom made it better with a couple of wins in TT, Badminton and Boxing. Manish Kaushik bowing out in round 1 in Boxing again was a big blow. He was IMO a genuine contender for at least a bronze. Aus thrashing India 7-1 made my cynical about our hopes in hockey. Terrible second day. More typical of our outings at the Olympics before.
Again terrible day following on from Day 2. Men's archery team predictably went through their first round to get roundly thrashed by Korea in the pre-quarters. Cursed our luck for meeting the Koreans so early and lamented that our guys coudn't have shot better on day 0.
Shooting team continued to shock with their pathetic performances. Started to think that day 1 was never going to be repeated again. Still had hopes from the shooting team - esp from the Mixed pistol and rifle events - but felt a sense of gloom. Women's hockey team continue to depress with a shambolic performance vs Germany. Both women TT players bowed out although Achanta went through round 1 in TT. Only bright spot of the day.
Day started amazingly well as Manu and Saurabh topped the first qualification round. Sure shot medal I thought. Back to looking at the medals table with glee hoping to see the counter under the Gold column increase after 12 long years. Manu promptly fluffed the next round to eliminate us from the final. Agony compounded by the #1 Mixed Rifle team failing to qualify for the finals as well. Was hoping to see 2 medals today. Dashed immediately. Achanta raised hopes by winning one game vs TT legend Ma Long .. but was shown his place promptly after. Mens hockey team win over Spain the only bright spot for the day. No more expectations of medals from the Shooting team. Despaired at the thought of another failed Olympics like 2016.
Another depressing day with Sai Praneeth following up a pathetic loss to an Israeli to another unheard of Dutchman. Men's archery team shown the exit by another Israeli. Deepika Kumari raised hopes with 2 wins to progress to the pre-quarters - but was cynical of her chances given her history. Sindhu's win in Badminton to progress to the next round was the only good thing along with Pooja Rani winning her first bout.
Shooting continued to fail - but the expectations were 0 now - so didn't hurt as much. Atanu Das' amazing win over a Korean in the round of 16 was an incredible high. Raised expectations of a medal in Archery - esp given that he had beaten the unbeatable Koreans! India beating Argentina in Men's hockey made the day much better along with Sindhu's win in Badminton. Raised hopes of more medals from Archery and Badminton. Day ended with a downer with Kom getting voted out in Boxing in a close game. Disappointed that our legend was out - but she looked past it. Atanu and the Men's hockey team raised optimism again.
Deepika Kumari had a superb finish against a highly ranked Russian. Raised hopes that she would beat the Korean given how well she held her nerve in the shoot-off to score a 10. Promptly dashed them with her most pathetic performance against a Korean who looked nervous as well. Was pleased to see the Indian women beat the Irish in hockey. Hoped they could scrape through to the quarters by beating South Africa - everyones whipping girls next.
Lovlina guaranteeing a medal in Boxing by reaching the semis was the highlight for the day along with Sindhu trashing Akane Yamaguchi in the Quarterfinals. Medal confirmed we thought making up for the disappointment from Sai Praneeth. Men's team rounded off the day well by guaranteeing a #2 place with a facile win over Japan. Nice revenge for the Asian Games.
Week 1 was eventful. After the incredible high of the first day, the next few days had been very very tough. Day 4 was the most disappointing so far due to our failure in the mixed shooting events. We should have had at least 5 medals at the end of week 1 - but only had 1 Silver so far.
Atanu was outperformed by the Japanese - so didn't feel too bad in Archery. Still was disappointed esp after he had that incredible round vs the Korean. Archery was 0 as usual. Another body blow to our medal hopes to see Amit Phangal getting thrashed in boxing by an unseeded Colombian. Kamalpreet Kaur qualifying for the final was a pleasant surprise. Hoped she had a medal chance esp since she had topped the qualifying round. Sindhu losing to Tai Tzu was very sad. She didn't look like she had a chance. Her losing tamely took away any medal expectations.
Two bright spots in Sindhu winning bronze and the men's team qualifying for the semis after 40+ years. Hoping for a gold/silver from the now. Satish Kumar - our only male boxer left - lost to the Uzbek champ. Amazing performance given his injury - but seeing Men's boxing failing again was sad. Was hoping we could do as well as London now. After thinking that would be our worst performance at the beginning - even reaching our London performance appeared like a long shot. Still - 1 more medal in the bank with more to come from Lovlina and the men's hockey team.
Women's team beating Australia to qualify for the semis was an incredible high. Beat out anything else happening in the day. Even Kamalpreet Kaur not medalling in Discus was fine. Fouaad Mirza's performance was noteworthy in Equestrian as well. Briefly raised medal hopes - but not good enough to compete with the others. Hopefully will do better soon. Shooters went out with a whimper with another pathetic performance failing to qualify for the finals.
Really bad day. Indian men lost a lead to go down to the Belgians in Hockey. Furious with the PC rules in hockey. Don't think it will become a popular sport until this is changed. Makes the game too mechanical. Not enough reward for artistry in the game.
Our first wrestler lost her opening round as well and our Asian games' shot put champ failed to qualify for the final.
Aditi Ashok tied for 2nd place in women's golf was a nice surprised. She had started the same way in Rio also - so no real expectations from her - but was nice to see an Indian near the top of an event after all the disappointing days previously. Lovlina won the bronze. By now - no expectations. -so was nice to see another medal in the bank.
Ravi Kumar and Deepak Punia though came out of nowhere to raise expectations sky high. Thought we would have at least 2 silvers/golds till Ravi Kumar was thrashed by an American. Still had hopes for a bronze given how well he had wrestled till then. Neeraj Chopra qualifying for the final in just 1 throw was awesome! He looked like a winner - although no expectations of anything more than a bronze from him.
Aditi still was at #2 with another good day's performance in Golf. India won bronze. Everyone went gaga but I was disappointed. Still was nice to see another medal - albeit bronze. Good day for Indian hockey. Good comeback to win against the Germans. Overall disappointing day with Vinesh Phogat bowing out in the pre-quarters. Ravi Kumar missing out on Bronze and Deepak Punia outperformed for Silver was sad.
Still 2 medals for a day was awesome after so many poor days for India. Hopeful we could match the London tally now - esp with Bajrang to come
Sad to see the Indian women miss out on the bronze. Lion hearted performance in the second half - but their poor show in the first half caused them to miss out. Hopeful for the future in the women's game. Bajrang missing out on the final another blow. The 20km women's final in walking was interesting. Was heartening to see Priyanka's performance to keep up with the leaders till the end. Aditi was still in #2 spot and looked certain for a silver at least.
Best day of the competition after day 1. Although it was heartbreaking to see Aditi miss out on a medal after three superb days - the competition for a medal went right down to the last stroke of the last hole.
Bajrang winning an unexpected bronze given his fitness and Neeraj's heroics to win our first gold in our very last event was just outstanding. Made up for all the disappointing days so far.
The first day was such a rush! The days following were mostly terrible - but it was amazing to think about the fact that we had medal hopes almost each and every single day. I had never followed an Olympics for India prior to this anything like this one. If we progress this way in the coming years - we should have good times ahead in Paris. It was nice to see the fencing lady have her 15 minutes of fame along with Aditi in Golf.
The upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth games should be good with the Shooting and Archery events being held in India in Jan 22. Going into the Commonwealth games - we should have plenty of Golds and Silvers (I hope) although I don't expect our tally to increase much once the games actually begin. We will probably be ranked lower in the medals tally than the previous games given that there are way more Swimming and Cycling events, fewer shooting events and new sports like Basketball 3x3 and more lawn bowls events.
The Asian Games should be a much better indicator of our progress for Paris.
Wrestling and Badminton are the only sports that look strong going forward for medal contenders. Hockey needs to consolidate on the highs from this games. Archery needs a revamp as does Shooting. Still hopeful that our Shooters will bounce back given that they have been so good at world events over the past few years. Shooting is also more an individual sport than a competitive sport. The conditions don't change as drastically as it is indoors and the distances and conditions don't change from event to event. If our shooters are more mentally prepared they will rock it in the next Olympics.
Our male boxers need a lot of work mentally. Women boxers are looking good. Should look for multiple medals from here.
Our Athletics chances of medalling can look awesome in field events if we can get Kaur to progress along with Neeraj and Tejinder Singh Toor in shot put. Our track chances look nil given that we are nowhere compared to the folks from North America, Europe and Africa. I feel Neeraj's success should help more ppl get into these events going forward. Maybe waking can be events where we can get potential medallists. Sandeep Singh and Priyanka in the women's events showed they could keep up with the best. Just a matter of building on their stamina for a good finish.
I feel in Paris we should reach the double digit medal mark comfortably with multiple golds taking us to the 20-30 range in the medals table.