Three unassuming women became the redeemers for India at the Rio Olympics as the country concluded its campaign with some good, bad and ugly memories.
Defying all odds and showing killer instincts, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik and Dipa Karmakar became the unlikely heroines and saved the country’s pride from returning empty-handed for the first time since Barcelona 1992.
The trio notched a few firsts for India; Sindhu, at 21, became the youngest to win an Olympic medal, a silver which was never achieved in badminton; and Sakshi’s bronze was also a first for women’s wrestling.
India’s first female gymnast Dipa went on to miss a bronze by 0.15 points but her clean finish in the high-risk Produnova vault won the hearts of a nation.
Lalita Babar became the second Indian woman to qualify for the final of a track vent at the Olympics in 32 years (PT Usha being the previous one in Los Angeles 1984) and finished 10th in the 3000m steeplechase.
An 18-year-old golfer Aditi Ashok slipped away from being in top-10 at the end of second round to finish 41st with an overall score of seven-over 291.
But there were some ugly moments as well, when wrestler Narsingh Yadav was slapped with a four-year ban by the Court of Arbitration of Sports which overturned the clean chit given by the National Anti-Doping Agency.
The dope shame had returned to haunt India again, even as Narsingh claimed innocence. The grappler cried conspiracy but was evicted from the Games Village.
In more off-field controversy ports minister Viay Goel’s entourage was called ‘rude’ by the Organising Committee, which threatened to cancel his accreditation for trying to bring non-accredited people at the accredited areas of venues.
Indian athletics contingent’s middle and long distance coach Nikolai Snesarev was “detained” at a local police station for half a day and later released by the police after a lady doctor at the Games Village made a complaint of misbehaviour.
Far away from home, India’s Independence Day celebration also made news for all the wrong reasons when the players were served merely peanuts in the programme hosted by the Embassy of India in Brazil and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport.
On field-show too was hardly inspiring. Competing in 15 disciplines with their biggest-ever contingent numbering 118, India hoped to go past their best ever tally of six medals in London 2012.
But the country stumbled on a tricky road in Rio when shooters fired a blank for the first time since Athens 2004, and boxers lacked punch, also a first in eight years.