Lovlina Borgohain on Friday assured India a medal from the Olympic Games boxing ring when she stormed into the semi-finals of the welterweight (69 kg) while PV Sindhu remained on course for a medal in badminton by authoritatively marching into the last-four stage by putting it across a tough Japanese opponent.

The men’s hockey team defeated hosts Japan 5-3 for their third successive win and finished second in their pool for the first time since 1972 when they reached the semi-finals the last time at the Olympics. Friday’s win set up a quarterfinal clash with Great Britain, the team that proved the stumbling block in 2008 when India failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1928.

The women’s hockey team kept alive its hopes of making it to the quarterfinals by beating the higher-ranked Ireland 1-0, only their third win ever in India’s third appearance at the Olympics. They now have to beat South Africa in their final league match on Saturday and hope Ireland lose to Great Britain to finish fourth in the group and secure a place in the quarterfinals.

Apart from these performances, Friday was otherwise a disappointing day for India as archer Deepika Kumari crashed out, losing tamely to South Korea’s An San. Deepika had reached the quarters by beating Russia’s Ksenia Perova in a shoot-off.

The day, however, belonged to Lovlina, the 16-year-old from Assam who had outplayed 2018 world champion Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei, a boxer to whom she has lost three times.

Lovlina boxed with aggression and without fear as she dominated Chen to emerge 4-1 winner and assure India another medal to add to the silver bagged by weightlifter Mirabai Chanu on July 24.

Lovlina will meet Surmeneli Busenaz of Turkey in the semi-finals on August 4 and a victory will assure her of at least a silver.

Sindhu, the 2016 Olympics silver medallist, has emerged as the lone flagbearer of Indian badminton in Tokyo after three other shuttlers crashed out in the group stage. On Friday, she came up with one of her best performances against a dangerous opponent in Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, the fourth seed, and outfoxed her for a straight games victory, 21-13, 22-20. Sindhu used her deceptive shots and superior net play to dominate the Japanese in the first game. Though Akane launched a superb fightback in the second set, Sindhu won four successive points from 18-20 to emerge a winner.

Sindhu will now take on world No 1 Tai Tzu-Ying of Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals.

There were disappointments galore as athletics competitions started with none of the Indians getting past their preliminary round heats.

In women’s 100m, Dutee Chand finished seventh in her heat with 11.54 seconds; in 400m hurdles, MP Jabir finished seventh in her heat with a below-par effort, while the much-touted 4x400m mixed relay team finished eighth and last in heats.

Steeplechase Avinash Sable was the only bright spot on an otherwise gloomy day in track and field as he bettered his own national record by clocking 8:18.12. He finished seventh in his heat and failed by 0.81 seconds to make it to the next stage.

In sailing, first-timers Nethra Kumanan and Vishnu Saravanan failed to make it to the final in laser radial and laser standard class respectively. Nethra finished 35th overall while Saravanan ended 20th in laser standard.

–IANS

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