Rio de Janeiro: Kidambi Srikanth, the centreof attention in the Rio Olympics today, can take heart from Hyderabad city mate P V Sindhu for his men’s singles quarterfinal clash against Chinese badminton icon Lin Dan here. Sindhu’s stunning straight-game victory over formidable Chinese shuttler Wang Yihan on day 11 yesterday to reach the semis is the ideal morale boost for Srikanth as he confronts two-time Olympic champion Dan. With the memorable win, Sindhu became the second Indian badminton player to reach an Olympic semifinal after Saina Nehwal achieved the feat four years ago.
Sindhu’s highly inspirational 22-20 21-19 victory over the current world no 2 and silver medal winner in London four years ago has boosted the country’s sagging hopes of a medal from the Games. The 21-year-old Indian now stands just a win away from assuring India an elusive medal at the Games here.
However, the task for Srikanth against Dan is formidable as national coach P Gopichand said. “It’s going to be a tough match and he (Srikanth) will give his best. Let’s see how it goes. All past records have no significance. It’s about keeping the momentum,” said Gopi after guiding Sindhu past Wang. Srikanth has beaten Dan famously once to win the China Open two years ago, but the Chinese ace has looked unstoppable in past Olympics. Indian athletes, including P T Usha’s protégé Tintu Luka (women’s 800m) and lone woman golfer Aditi Ashok are still in the fray, but India’s receding medal chances now rest mainly on badminton and wrestling. Tintu would be running in round one of the women’s two-lap race today while Aditi will start her campaign in the four-day stroke play golf competition.
Also in action today are women freestyle grapplers Vinesh Phogat (48kg) and Sakshi Malik (58 kg). The country’s campaign in the Olympics has been beset by a series of disappointments and controversies. In fact Sindhu’s superb show against Wang in 54 minutes overshadowed wrestler Narsingh Yadav’s Olympic participation, which was put in doubt after the clean chit given to him by the National Anti-Doping Agency in the dope scandal back home was challenged by world body WADA in the Court of Appeal for Sports.
“WADA has appealed against the NADA (National Anti-Doping Agency) clearance in Court of Arbitration (CAS). Now the hearing is on and the IOA Secretary General (Rajeev Mehta) is there with WADA officials,” Indian contingent’s chef-de-mission Rakesh Gupta told PTI. More PTI
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