Rio 2016: Indians disappoint on first day of track and field events

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Rio de Janeiro, Aug 13: It was a disappointing start for India in athletics events of the Rio Olympics as all the four competitors, including discus thrower Vikas Gowda, failed to put up a creditable performance here on Friday.

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Gowda and women's shot putter Manpreet Kaur fell by the wayside at the qualification stage itself while Jinson Johnson could not qulaify for the semifinals in the morning session.

Rio 2016: Indians disappoint on first day of track and field events

Later in the day, Manish Singh Rawat finished 13th while his two other compatriots Gurmeet Singh and Krishnan Ganapathi were disqualified early in the men's 20km race walk road event.

The 33-year-old Gowda, in his fourth straight Olympics, produced an utterly below-par performance with a best throw of 58.99m to finish 28th overall out of 34 competitors. He finished 16th in a field of 18 in Group B qualification round.

Gowda, who holds the national record of 66.28m, had come into the Olympics without taking part in any competition this year due to a shoulder injury. He had last taken part in a competition in September last year in the ISTAF Meet in Berlin.

The Mysore-born US-based Indian, the reigning Asian champion, began with a 57.59m and improved by more than a metre to 58.99m in his second throw before producing a 58.70m in his third and final attempt.

This has been the worst performance for Gowda, who won a gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and a silver in the 2014 Asian Games, in his four appearances at the Olympics.

(Rio 2016: Indian Shot Putter Manpreet Kaur fails to qualify for final round)

He had failed to qualify for the final round in 2004 and 2008 Olympics but made it to final round to eventually finish eighth at the 2012 London Games.

"My performance was not very good today. Frustrating. Just had a lot of bad luck this year. Lot of injuries. Was not able to train until three-four weeks ago. Obviously, that was not enough time to prepare," Gowda said.

"I tore both quad-tendons of my knees. Right above the kneecap, earlier in the year. It did progress, so I had to take a break from training. So, not enough enough time."

Favourite Piotr Malachowski of Poland topped the qualification round with a best throw of 65.89m, followed by Lukas Weisshaidinger (65.86m) of Austria and Christoph Harting (65.41m) of Germany.

Reigning Olympic champion Robert Harting of Germany, who battled injuries in his build-up to the Olympics, failed to qualify for the final round as he finished 15th overall with a best throw of 62.21m.

The qualifying mark for the final round was set at a high of 65.50m or at least 12 best performers.

In women's shot put, national record holder Manpreet finished a disappointing 23rd overall out of 35 competitors with a best throw if 17.06m. She finished 13th in Group B qualifying round.

The 26-year-old Punjab woman, who holds the national record of 17.96m, had her two other throws of 16.68m and 16.67m to bow out of the competition.

The qualifying mark for the final round was set at a high of 18.40m or at least 12 best performers. Beijing and London Olympics gold medallist Valerie Adams of New Zealand topped the qualification round overall with a throw of 19.74m, followed by Christina Schwanitz (19.18m) of Germany and Michelle Carter (19.01m) of United States.

In men's 800m race, Johnson failed to qualify for the semifinals after finishing fifth with a modest timing of 1:47.27secs in Heat Number 3. World record holder David Rudisha of Kenya won the heat in 1:45.09secs.

During the race, Johnson was hit on his legs by a fellow runner at the first bend and he struggled a bit for a while before recovering. He might have lost his rhythm a bit. The 25-year-old Johnson from Kerala had clocked 1:45.98, the second fastest by an Indian after the legendary Sriram Singh, during the Indian Grand Prix in Bengaluru last month.

He would have qualified for the semifinals had he repeated that performance but could not do it at the biggest stage of all. He finished 25th overall out of a total 50 competitors. In the men's 20km race walk, Rawat finished 13th with a timing of 1 hour 21 minutes and 21 seconds, nearly one minute below his personal best of 1:20:26.

The 25-year-old from Uttarakhand was doing well initially as he was at 10th place after the 6-km mark. He dropped to 18 after the 8km mark but recovered to be at seventh after the halfway 10km mark with a timing of 40:22. But, after the 12km mark, he was at 18th again to eventually finish the race at 13th.

He received one warning for either one of his two legs not making contact with the ground. 74 walkers began the race but 63 completed it with 11 being disqualified after three rule violations. Gurmmet and Ganapathi were among those 11.

Gurmeet was disqualified early after the 4-km mark. He got a red card after being warned twice. He was penalised twice for not keeping contact with the ground with either one of his two legs and once for bent knee.

Ganapathi was disqualified just before the 10-km mark. He was penalised thrice for not keeping contact with the ground with either one of his two legs.

China finished one-two with London Games bronze medallist Zhen Wang winning the gold with a timing of 1:19:14 while his country-mate Zelin Cai took the silver in 1:19:26.

Australia's Dane Bird-Smith grabbed the bronze after a late charge in 1:19:37.

PTI

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