RIO DE JANEIRO -- The men's hockey team and army rower Dattu Baban Bhokanal lit up an otherwise gloomy opening day of competitions for India at the Rio Olympics yesterday.
The men's hockey team broke a 12-year Olympics jinx by winning their opening group league encounter, while Bhokanal qualified for the quarter finals by finishing third in his heat in men's singles sculls.
These were the only bright spots as the contingent faced reversals in the shooting range, tennis court and table tennis.
The day commenced promisingly when rower Bhokanal entered the quarterfinals of single sculls by ending up third in heat 1 of the 2000m race with a timing of 7 minutes, 21.67 seconds, behind Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba and Mexico's Juan Carlos Cabrera.
This was followed by the men's hockey squad's hard-fought 3-2 win over minnows Ireland, taking part in the Games after 108 years, in pool B opener through penalty corner goals from Rupinderpal Singh, who struck twice, and V R Raghunath.
But in between women shooters Ayonika Paul and Apurvi Chandela put up a flop show to crash out of the 10m air rifle qualifying round while paddlers Mouma Das and Manika Batra also made an early exit by losing their preliminary round encounters.
Overshadowing these setbacks was the first round elimination of veteran tennis star Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna from men's doubles and Jitu Rai's poor display in the men's 10m air pistol where he finished eighth with a tally of 78.7 after qualifying for the eight-man summit round by finishing 6th in the preliminaries out of 46 shooters.
Paes's dream of a second medal in the Games history went up in smoke after he and Bopanna, not the best of friends, crashed out by suffering a straight-set defeat against Polish rivals Marcin Matkowski and Lukasz Kubot, losing 4-6 6-7 (6-8).
An emotional Paes, in his seventh Olympics, did not hide his disappointment and charged that he had "become a soft target" and that was the reason why people are "taking potshots" at him.
Paes, 43, was furious at reports of him not allegedly wanting to share a room with Bopanna and then also going on record about not being allotted room in the Games Village.
Playing in his record seventh and probably his last Olympics, Paes - a bronze medallist at the 1996 Atlanta Games, saw his campaign get over in only 84 minutes as not for once did the Indian pair look like having forged a winning combination.