Beijing, Aug 24 (UNI) When it comes to medals, fourth places always sting. Even though India had its most successful Olymics this time, a good number of athletes amongst them had to return home with a heavy heart as they missed out on medals by a whisker.
While Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Kumar and Sushil Kumar have inscribed their names in the Indian sporting history, there were other names like Saina Nehwal, Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar and the Tennis duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi who had the opportunity to join the trio.
National Champion Saina Nehwal, who looked good to grab a medal for the country but her gallant run in her maiden Olympics was cut short by Maria Kristin Yulianti of Indonesia in the quarter-finals.
A win at that stage against the Indonesian, who is three rungs below Saina in the rankings, would have assured the Indian of a bronze medal for which she looked destined to at one point with her 'giant killing' spree as she stunned World number 4 en route to the last eight in the event.
However, Saina did receive the accolades which she thoroughly deserved as only an extraordinary effort like the one she faced in the quarter-finals could end her Olympic campaign.
Meanwhile, the much fancied duo of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi failed to make their reunion count as they ran into an inspired Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarter finals.
Only a few would have expected Sushil Kumar to bag a bronze medal but the hopes of a medal were high from the estranged Indian pair which was stopped from getting into the semi-final stage but not before the two had aroused great expectations in the previous rounds.
If Bindra's gold medal at the Beijing Olympics would be remembered forever by his countrymen, Boxers, too, put their stakes high in the event.
It all started when Akhil Kumar made a stunning come back in his pre-quarterfinal round to outpunch World Champion Sergey Vodopyanov of Russia and had his eyes set on a medal and that too on Gold.
However, he stumbled at the last hurdle where he was overpowered by Moldovan Veaceslav Gojan and his hopes were shattered with the loss but not before his effort had given his Haryana pugilists - Vijender and Jitender - enough motivation to find a place on the podium.
Meanwhile, on a day when two Haryana sportsperson - Vijender and Sushil - created history by winning two individual bronze medals for the country there was Jitender Kumar as well who could have made it to three medals in one single day if he had not failed to cross the quarter final stage.
However, there were others who entered the Games village with high reputations but then could not even come to close to the medal stage.
There was long jumper Anju Bobby George who could not record a single legal jump and the shooters led by Athens Olympics' silver medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore, World Trap Champion Manavjit Singh and Anjali Bhagwat and the Commonwealth Games superstar Samaresh Jung.
Bindra did give India its first medal and that too a gold but still a little more was expected from the nine-member Indian shooting contingent. Medals were far away from them but they could not even produce any substantial performance in the event.
But the Beijing Olympics will always remain special for India as some of its unheralded sportspersons made their presence count at the World stage. Their efforts would probably prove to be a major catalyst in motivating their countrymen to go into the next editions as a better force.
UNI HSB RAR RK1715