After two weeks of watching the half-month long global celebration of sport with all its myriad emotions, the Games finally came to an end with a dazzling ceremony, leaving us with memories and lots of analysis to do. The Olympics for us this year had a couple of bright spots and a fair share of disappointments. But it is only error that makes us human, isn't it?
India finished 67th in the medals tally as compared to 55th of last time. The general consensus before the Games was between six to eight medals, but we finished with two. There was the feel of a 14-day festival with people watching and cheering the contingent from time to time. The last few days had seen fans in various corners of the country displaying the Indian flag. There was no doubt that, as the Olympics progressed, a deep-rooted nationalism was out in the open again, but it was a nationalism that was cheerful; not boorish.
Although India’s show had its poor moments from the expected quarters, given the fabulous, picturesque host in eventful Rio de Janeiro, we were in for some mesmerizing displays by our contingent.
1) Manoj Kumar stuns 2012 Olympic bronze-medalist
Manoj Kumar (64 kg) defeated ex-Olympic bronze medalist Evaldas Petrauskas in a hard-fought encounter to enter the pre-quarterfinals of the Rio Games. But he faced tough competition from Uzbekistan boxer Fazliddin Gaibnazarov in the Round of 16 and lost 0-3.
2) Indian women’s hockey team fight back with a 2-2 draw against Japan
The Sushila Chanu-led side was heading for a defeat after conceding two goals against a resilient Japan in the first match of the tournament. But they came back strongly in the third quarter, courtesy goals from Rani Rampal and Lilima Minz to swing the tide against a higher-ranked opponent.
3) Lalita Babar becomes the first woman after PT Usha to qualify for Olympics track finals
The 27-year-old long distance runner finished Heat 2 of the 3000-meter steeplechase event with a timing of 9:19.76, which was enough to secure her a berth in the finals. PT Usha became the first Indian woman to achieve the distinction when she made the finals of the women's 400m hurdles in 1984 at Los Angeles.
4) Vinesh Phogat being carried away on a stretcher from the mat
Vinesh was one of India's best medal bets at Rio but her campaign came to a painful end after she suffered an injury half-way into the first period of quarterfinal bout against China’s Sun Yanan. Before her unfortunate injury, the 21-year-old had appeared to be in great form beating Emilia Alina Vic of Romania 11-0 by technical superiority in the pre-quarterfinal clash.
5) PV Sindhu beats World No. 2 Wang Yihan of China, moves to semi-finals
PV Sindhu pulled off a huge upset in the women's singles quarterfinal by beating World No. 2 Wang Yihan of China to enter the medal round of the 2016 Rio Olympics. The ninth-seeded Indian displayed a great combination of aggression and defence with brilliant cross-court smashes and returning most of Wang’s drop shots.
6) India defeats eventual champions Argentina in convincing fashion
After a close 3-2 win over Ireland in their opening match, India suffered a disappointing 1-2 loss against the reigning Olympic champions Germany but bounced back to notch up a 2-1 win against Argentina to remain among the top four in the six-team pool. Chinglensana Singh and Kothajit Singh scored the two goals for India.
7) Jitu Rai finishes 8th in the finals of the 10m Air Pistol
Ranked number 3 in the World in 10m air pistol, Jitu Rai's journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics got off to the worst possible start as the shooter couldn’t make it count in the finals after coming from behind in the qualifiers to cement his place in the finals. Later, he failed to qualify for the finals in the 50m Air Pistol as well.
8) Dipa Karmakar sends a strong message to India and the world
The young girl from Tripura finished fourth with a score of 15.066 in the eight-woman Vault final of the Artistic Gymnastics event at Rio 2016, just missing out on a medal place by a fraction. The 22-year-old gymnast’s first vault fetched her 14.866 points and the Produnova gave her 15.266. She was second after her two vaults but Russia and USA were the last to go and that pushed her out of the top three position.
9) Sania-Bopanna win first set comfortably before going down in the semi-finals
The semi-final loss against Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram carried into the bronze medal match against Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka of Czech Republic with the Indian pairing going down tamely in straight sets. Earlier, they gave hopes of India's first medal at the Games by winning the first set comfortably before suffering a heart-breaking loss in the mixed doubles semi-finals.
10) Sakshi Malik ends India's medal drought with a dramatic win
It was a story of triumphing against the odds. Sakshi’s fabulous feat in Rio de Janeiro on August 17, 2016, will remain as one of the most memorable chapters in India’s sporting history, along with those of Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, and Karnam Malleswari.
Though the more promising players who were burdened by expectations denied us cheers, we can take heart that these young starlets will return again after four years. It should help a long way in raking in more metal in Tokyo if we groom our buds with the right nutrients for them to flower.
Samba was inevitably served spicy.