As the curtains rise for the XXX Olympiad with a much-awaited opening ceremony in London’s Olympic Park, 81 Indians will walk onto the stage led by their national hero Sushil Kumar Singh. But their mind would actually be set away from the lights, the glamour, the glitterati, the pandemonium and celebrations that will erupt as Danny Boyle unravels his magic on the millions witness to the historical theater. The Indians will be concentrating on the challenges that lie ahead in the coming two weeks. For some, the hard work begins tomorrow.
We preview those events of Day 1 in which India is involved. We look at the opponents of the Indian athletes, their event, draws and schedule according to Indian television broadcast. (The London Olympics will be telecasted live on ESPN-Star Sports and DD Sports in India)
After a disappointing ranking round in both the men’s and women’s events, the Indian archers will team up once again in the team event on Day 1, which will be a medal day for the men’s team event. The Indian trio of Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Tarundeep Rai, who finished bottom out of the 12 participating nations in the qualification round, will face-off against Japan in the first elimination round. The Japanese team finished fifth in the ranking round and will be high on confidence, especially against the Indians, who struggled to find their range in the fabled setting of Lord’s. The winner of this round await the mighty Americans, who made a direct entry into the quarterfinals.
Start Time: 1355 hrs IST
Badminton will see the Round Robin format being used for the very first time at the quadrennial extravaganza. As far as the five-member Indian badminton contingent is concerned, four of them, with the exception of Saina Nehwal, will begin their campaign at the Wembley Arena on the opening day of the games. World No. 21 Parupalli Kashyap, India’s lone entrant into the men’s singles event, will take on Belgium’s Yuhan Tan, ranked 33 places below the Indian.
The famous mixed doubles pairing of Jwala Gutta/ V Diju and will have face an uphill battle against No. 3 seeds Liliyana Natsir/ Tontowi Ahmad of Indonesia. Jwala will take to the courts again later in the day when she teams up with Ashwini Ponnappa for their first group match against the formidable Japanese partnership of Reika Kakiiwa/ Mizuki Fujii who also happen to be the fourth seeds in the women’s doubles event.
Mixed Doubles Group Play Stage – Group C
Ahmad T / Natsir L vs V D / Gutta J
Start Time: 1300 hrs IST
Men’s Singles Group Play Stage – Group D
Parupalli Kashyap vs Tan Yuhan
Start Time: 1412 hrs IST
Women’s Doubles Group Play Stage – Group B
Fujii M / Kakiiwa R vs Gutta J / Ponnappa A
Start Time: 1950 hrs IST
Touted as India’s strongest ever contingent at the Olympics, Indian pugilists will have to derive the right balance between pressure and confidence from a billion plus expectations. In the fray tomorrow will be teenage wonderkid Shiva Thapa and seasoned campaigner Vijender Singh. Thapa, the Asian qualifier champion, will fight it out against Mexico’s Oscar Valdez in the Round of 32 of the 56 kg Bantamweight category. Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Vijender Singh (Middleweight 75kg category) will start of his campaign with a bout against Danabek Suzhanov of Kazakhstan.
Shiva Thapa vs Oscar Valdez (1915 hrs IST)
Vijender Singh vs Danabek Suzhanov (July 29 0300 hrs IST)
Despite boasting of a high-profile tennis team, Indian fans will be disappointed not to have more than the single Indian match on offer on the opening day at SW19. Sania Mirza and Rushmi Chakravarthi, who have played together in the Fed Cup in the past, will team up again as they take on the Chinese Taipei pairing of Su-Wei Hsieh/ Chia-Jung Chuang. Doubles world. No. 18 Mirza’s experience on the WTA tour will come in handy for the Indian team against players who are both ranked inside the world top-50 on the doubles chart.
Women’s Doubles First Round
Chakarvarthi R / Mirza S vs Chuang Cj / Hsieh Sw
On Court 19 at 22.00 hrs IST
In other sporting events on Day One, rookie paddlers Ankita Das and Soumyajit Ghosh will be up against significantly higher ranked opponents in Sara Ramirez (Spain) and Gustavo Tsuboi (Brazil), respectively, in the first round of their respective events. Realistically, these two youngsters are for the future and flew to London just for the experience.
Women’s Singles First Round
Sara Ramirez vs Ankita Das (1630 hrs IST)
Men’s Singles First Round
Tsuboi Gustavo vs Ghosh Soumyajit (2030 hrs IST)
Pistol shooter Vijay Kumar will be at the Royal Artillery Barracks for the 10m air pistol event. Kumar’s priority remains the 25 m pistol event in which he has won several medals in the last few years.
Men’s 10m Air Pistol- Qualification (1630 hrs IST), Finals (2000 hrs)
India’s lone warrior in the women’s weightlifting event, Soniya Chanu will have to perform out of her skin if she has any hopes of grabbing a medal and emulating her idol Karnam Malleswari’s feat in Sydney 2000. Chanu’s personal best lift stands at a total weight of 175 kgs, a whopping 25 kg short of what two of her competitors have lifted coming into the games. Infact, on tomorrow’s startlist, only 5 out of the 14 lifters have lesser entry weight to their names as compared to Chanu.
Women’s 48kg Group A (2000 hrs IST)
Little-known Swarn Singh Virk will feature in the single sculls rowing event in Dorney Lake. This is Virk’s first appearance at the Olympics, courtesy his qualifying event win at the FISA Olympic Continental Qualification Regatta for Asia in Chung Ju, Korea.
Men’s Single Sculls Heats (1700 hrs IST)