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Neeraj Chopra wins India’s first-ever athletics gold in Olympics

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Neeraj Chopra on Saturday made history by becoming the first Indian to win gold medal in athletics at Olympic Games when he clinched first position at Tokyo 2020 with a throw of 87.58 metres in the javelin competition.

Chopra has also become only the second Indian after Abhinav Bindra to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics. Chopra now holds gold medals in javelin throw at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and now the Olympics, all at the same time.

Chopra’s gold means India, with seven medals at Tokyo Games, have surpassed the tally of six medals won at 2012 London Olympics. This is the most medals won by India in a single edition of Olympics.

Czech Republic’s Jakub Vadlejch bagged silver medal with a throw of 86.67m. His compatriot Vitezslav Vesley took bronze medal with a throw of 85.44m.

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Olympics: Wrestler Ravi Kumar loses in final, bags silver in 57kg freestyle

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Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar won the silver medal in men’s freestyle 57kg after losing to Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Zavur Uguev in the final at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. The ROC wrestler won the bout 7-4 on points.

Ravi Kumar, who had reached the final by beating Sanayev Nurislam of Kazakhstan in the semifinal, found Uguev, a two-time World Champion, too strong and too determined to win the gold. The Russian won early points and then defended strongly, without giving Ravi Kumar many chances.

Ravi Kumar won India’s second silver medal in the Olympics after Sushil Kumar who won in 66kg freestyle in the London Olympics in 2012.

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Hungry for more success, Sindhu now eyes Paris Olympics

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The only Indian woman to win two Olympic medals, P.V. Sindhu feels that this is not the end as the star shuttler now eyes 2024 Olympics to be held at Paris.

After arriving in her hometown on Wednesday to a hero’s welcome following the bronze medal win at Tokyo Olympics, she made it clear that she is hungry for more.

“It will not stop with this. There will be many more successes going forward. Definitely, I will play in Paris and will do my best,” said the 26-year-old who won two consecutive Olympic medals and is the reigning world champion.

Addressing a press conference along with her Korean coach Park Tae-sang, physical trainer Srikanth Varma and directors of Suchitra Badminton Academy, she said that while winning the silver medal at Rio Olympics ago changed her life, it was important to keep the momentum going over last five years.

Sindhu said she could get the medal because all of them worked hard. “We worked very hard. We knew that only hard work and sacrifices can get us there. All of us had the dream of a medal at Tokyo. We knew the value of the medal,” she said.

On the rigorous training before Olympics, she said they all knew the importance of physical fitness. She recalled that even the recovery session was done carefully.

Varma was all praise for Sindhu for bearing with the torturous training she had to go through. “I worked with other athletes, but Sindhu is tremendous,” he said

He recalled that Sindhu never took a break from the training even for a single day.

The Korean coach said he was very happy as for him this was first Olympic medal as coach. “I will never forget this moment in my life,” he said.

He said despite the pandemic situation, Sindhu remained focused and worked hard with patience and this finally paid off. He exuded confidence that the star shuttler will win a medal in next Olympics too.

Suchitra Academy head coach and director Pradeep Raju said they had the dream of achieving multiple medals at Olympics. He said Sindhu was highly motivated and the coach was equally passionate about success.

He said they received all help from Telangana sports authorities as Gachibowli stadium was made available for training. The stadium was selected because it was similar to what they had in Tokyo.

The authorities switched on the AC and created the same match situation to enable her to practice. At least 20 different players from the Academy sparred with Sindhu on rotation.

“Before Mission Paris 2024, we want to see her become world number one. Our dream is to see her play next Olympics as number one seed,” he said.

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Olympics: Boxer Lovlina Borgohain bags bronze after losing semifinal bout

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Boxer Lovlina Borgohain became the third Indian athlete at the Tokyo Olympics after weightlifter Mirabai Chanu and shuttler PV Sindhu to clinch a medal — a bronze — after she lost her welterweight semifinal bout to Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena on Wednesday.

India have now bettered their 2016 Rio Olympic Games tally by clinching a silver and two bronze in Tokyo.

The 23-year-old from Golaghat district of Assam lost her 64/69kg category last-four bout in a unanimous decision to Busenaz, who is among the best in the business and is ranked No. 1 here.

Lovlina also became the third boxer to win a medal at the Olympics for India after Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom’s bronze at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics respectively.

Lovlina had already assured India of its first boxing medal from the Tokyo Olympics when she defeated former world champion and fourth seed Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei 4-1 in the quarterfinals. Earlier, she had beaten Germany’s Nadine Apetz 3-2 in the pre-quarterfinals.

Busenaz, the 2019 world champion fighting from the red corner, was attacking from the word go. She was punching well from both sides and landed her left hook easily. Lovlina started well too but became defensive midway. Though she made a late surge to get points, Busenaz won the first round, with the judges giving her five 10s.

In the second round, Lovlina was quick on the attack. But Busenaz continued to be proactive in the ring. Both pugilists landed continuous punches but the Turkish boxer won the second round. Lovlina had five 9s from the judges, but got a deduction of one point for punching after the referee had closed the second round.

The final round saw Lovlina trying to bridge the gap with body punches. But Busenaz started to avoid her punches and landed a left hook followed by an uppercut. Lovlina punched non-stop till the end, but it was too late to make a turnaround against Busenaz’s persistent attack.

Busenaz let out a scream when the final bell rang. The 23-year-old knew she was the more dominant and superior boxer on show. She now advances to the gold-medal bout, where she will be up against China’s Gu Hong.

Lovlina’s loss in the semifinals brings India’s campaign in boxing at the Tokyo Olympics to an end.

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Olympics: Kamalpreet finishes sixth in discus throw, Valarie Allman wins gold

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Indian discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur has finished a commendable sixth in the final of the women’s discus throw final at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday. Kamalpreet, on her Olympics debut, had a throw of 63.70m to be placed sixth.

Valarie Allman of the USA won the gold medal with a throw of 68.90m in her very first attempt. Valarie’s throw put her immediately on top of the competition, which proved not only to be enough for gold but more than 2.4 metres beyond anyone’s throw at the Olympic Stadium.

The 26-year-old was also one of the two athletes to have thrown beyond 70 metres in 2021 with a throw of 70.01m at the USA Trials in Eugene, Oregon in June.

Germany’s Kristin Pudenz took the silver medal with a personal best throw of 66.86m on her fifth attempt. The bronze medal was clinched by reigning world champion Yaime Perez of Cuba, who hurled the disc to a distance of 65.72m on her first attempt.

Two-time defending champion Sandra Perkovic of Croatia, who was vying for a hat-trick of the yellow metal after 2012 London and Rio 2016, was fourth best with a throw of 65.01m.

Kamalpreet started off with 61.62m in her first attempt. Her second attempt was a foul. Rain brought a halt to the proceedings with Kamalpreet in seventh position.

After resumption, Kamalpreet’s throw of 63.70m took her from ninth to sixth place. Her fourth throw was invalid as her foot touched the rim of the circle.

The 25-year-old’s fifth throw got her a distance of 61.37m. Kamalpreet’s final throw was her third foul of the night as the discus landed well outside the radar.

Kamalpreet was only one of two athletes to meet the automatic qualification mark of 64m. She made the final from Group B ranked 2nd in qualification after Valarie’s throw of 66.42m.

Kamalpreet bettered Krishna Poonia’s throw of 63.62m, who came sixth in the final at the 2012 London Olympics.

Initially, Kirshna came seventh. But after silver medalist Darya Pishchalnikova tested positive for a banned anabolic steroid, her position was upgraded one place.

Seema Punia, the other Indian in the discus throw event at Tokyo, who was competing in her fourth Olympics, failed to make the cut for the final with a throw of 60.57m in the qualification stage.

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Olympics: Tai Tzu beats Sindhu in straight games in semifinals

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India’s gold medal hopes in women’s singles badminton went up in smoke after PV Sindhu lost her semifinal to Tai Tzu-Ying in straight games 18-21, 12-21 here on Saturday. Sindhu, who is the Rio Olympics silver-medallist and world champion, will now compete with China’s He Bing Jiao for the bronze medal.

Sindhu had drawn early advantage with her aggressive display in the first game, opening up a 6-3 lead. However, Tai Tzu fought back before Sindhu again opened up a three-point lead at 11-8. However, Tai Tzu then won three quick points to draw level and from there, the two went neck and neck before the Taiwanese player closed the first game in her favour 21-18.

While the first game took 21 minutes, the second game took just 19 minutes as Tai Tzu continued using the sharp, acute angles to leave the ace Indian shuttler and the world champion flummoxed. Tai Tzu took a four-point lead at 11-7 and from there never looked back sealing the game at 21-12.

The 40-minute encounter between the sixth seed Sindhu and the second seed Tai Tzu was as one-sided as it could get and took half as much time as the first semifinal between He and Chen Yu Fei.

Chen overpowered her Chinese compatriot in three games 21-16, 13-21 and 21-12 in 79 minutes.

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Olympics: Sindhu storms into women’s badminton semi-finals

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PV Sindhu, the 2016 Olympics silver medallist and reigning world champion, quelled a superb fightback by Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi to win in straight games and reach the semi-finals in women’s singles badminton competition at the Olympic Games on Friday.

Sindhu seeded sixth here, beat fourth seed Akane 21-13, 22-20 in 56 minutes.

Sindhu, after winning the first game comfortably 21-13, was cruising towards victory, having opened up an 11-6 lead in the second game, when Akane started a superb fightback. The Japanese shuttler who had been outplayed by Sindhu in the first game with deceptive and disguised shots, switched tactics to engage the Indian, seeded sixth here, in long rallies, and tire her out.

And it looked like Akane would succeed as she fought back from 6-12 down to win 10 of the next 12 points, catching up with Sindhu at 15-15 and taking the lead.

Sindhu checked her progress by tapping into her energy reserves as she tightened her game, broke Akane’s rhythm with attacking play, and saved two match points to win the game and match at 22-20.

From 18-20, Sindhu won the next four points with superb attacking play, keeping Akane on her toes with half-smashes and pin-point drop shots to seal victory in 56 minutes.

Sindhu, looking to add a gold medal to the silver she won in Rio, dominated her Japanese rival at the net, created points with her disguised shots, and completed straight games win.

The Indian 26-year-old shuttler from Hyderabad was in total control of the first game and then quelled a strong fightback by Akane to reach the semi-finals for the second successive Olympics.

Sindhu was really happy with her performance against Akane but was focused on the next match.

“I’m happy but it’s not over yet. For me, it’s time to go back, relax and get ready for the next match. I’m happy but I need to prepare for the next match.”

Sindhu said the second game was the most important as Akane came back strongly.

“There were some very long rallies. The second game was very important, I was leading and Akane came back, so I couldn’t relax. On my side, there were a few errors. I wasn’t nervous even though she was at game point, my coach was saying: ‘It’s okay, keep the focus and you’ll get there. He was constantly supporting me and that got me by and I’m happy I got back in two games,” Sindhu told the BWF.

On her ability to rise to the occasion and doing well in the big events, Sindhu said: “I take that as a compliment but I think I have really worked hard for this and it’s not over yet and I have to be focused and prepare for the next match. The next one is important.”

Akane said she tried to be patient against Sindhu but it was difficult to attack. “It was difficult for me to attack her,” she said.

“I tried to be patient [at game point] but after that, she led by a game. I had a lot of support messages, so I tried to do my best but I lost that game [second game] so that’s frustrating. A lot of people supported me and I appreciate that. I worked hard and I’m disappointed. To stand on this stage, it’s not a normal tournament, it’s very special to me.”

Akane said the mood in the Japan camp was sombre as compatriot Nozomi Okuhara had lost to China’s He Bing Jiao in the first quarterfinal in the morning.

“We have had a lot of top-seeded players and everyone expected better of us, but we did our best and I want to go on to the next step in the future,” she told the BWF.

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The dream has been fulfilled: Mirabai Chanu

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Mirabai Chanu, who gave India a start in the medals tally at the Tokyo Olympics with a silver in the womens 49kg weightlifting event, has said that her dream of winning a medal at the Olympics has been fulfilled.

“There is so much happiness. The dream to take a medal at the Olympics has been fulfilled today.” said Mirabai in a virtual interaction organised by the Sports Authority of India on Saturday.

Mirabai acknowledged that the failure to not finish her lift at the 2016 Rio Olympics propelled her to put in more effort.

“I had worked really hard for Rio, but failed badly. It was not my day. It was then that I decided I will fulfil my dream of winning an Olympic medal for the country. What I couldn’t do in Rio, I covered it in Tokyo Olympics. In Tokyo, where I am right now, it’s because of Rio. It took lots of hard work in reaching here.”

Mirabai’s silver is India’s second medal in weightlifting at the Olympics after Karnam Malleswari’s bronze in the 69kg category at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“Khaana, sona aur training ke alawa koi doosra kaam nahi kiya” (Besides eating, sleeping and training, she didn’t do any other work) is how Mirabai’s coach Vijay Sharma summed up her schedule in the past five years.

“Post Rio failure, there was a lot of pressure on me. That setback showed us that we needed to work harder and be more determined. I worked with that lesson and Mira gave full support to me. But the journey post it (Rio 2016), training technique was changed and (we) got results after 2017. There were 2.5 years of Olympic qualification and 1.5 years of corona. But the result of the journey has been reaching here (on the podium),” said Sharma.

To validate Sharma’s point, Mirabai spoke about making a visit home for just five days in the last five years.

“Sacrifice has been a lot, (I) focused on training. In the last five years, went home for just five days. Didn’t eat certain foods; I knew I had to win a medal.”

Sharma spoke about the qualities which stood out when he met Mirabai for the first time. “As a team, I started working with her since 2014. Have worked with many students in a group but what was different with Mira was her discipline and determination. The desire to achieve something in her was more than the other students. Those qualities, which were unique, caught my eye. Whatever she has achieved, it has come through hard work, discipline and determination.”

Mirabai also expressed her gratitude to her coach, support staff, family, friends and Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

“Lots of support and got help from TOPS. Lots of changes are happening. What we want, we get. Thanks to them for supporting and extending the same to other players. I tell the players to work hard and raise the name of the country. Have got the medal due to lots of support.”

Asked about what she planned to do on returning home, a smiling Mirabai said, “I will eat the food made by my mother and meet all. Mum is really happy and busy. She didn’t eat anything till the competition got over. Everyone is happy that the medal has come. The whole village is happy.”

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