Rio de Janeiro: Kidambi Srikanth became the second male shuttler in India’s Olympic history to reach the men’s singles quarterfinals when he overcame higher ranked Danish rival Jan O Jorgensen in straight games in the Rio Games badminton on Monday.
The 21-19, 21-19 win for Srikanth, ranked 11th in the world, lifted the sagging spirits of India on the 10th day of competitions as he became the second shuttler after Parupalli Kashyap in the London Games four years ago to reach the last eight in men’s singles.
However, India’s slim hopes of a medal in the women’s 3000m steeplechase disappeared when Lalita Babar, the first track athlete to qualify for an Olympic final in 32 years, could finish only 10th in 9 minutes, 22.74 seconds. She had set a new national mark of 9:19.76s when she qualified for the final two days ago, but could not improve on it in a race won with a searing run to the gold by Bahrain’s diminutive Kenya-born Asian Games champion Ruth Jebet in 8:59.75s.
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Despite her 10th place finish, Babar’s effort was still the best performance by an Indian in a track event after P.T. Usha’s fourth-place finish in the 400m hurdles in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The 27-year-old from the drought-prone Satara district in Maharashtra had become the second Indian woman after Usha in 1984 Los Angeles to qualify for a final at a track event at quadrennial extravaganza.
Hyvin Kiyeng Jepkomoi of Kenya took the silver in 9:07.12s while American Emma Coburn won the bronze in 9:07.63s. Two other athletes—Srabani Nanda, in women’s 200m, and triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary—made tame exits in the first round while wrestler Ravinder Khatri lost his opening round fight against Hungary’s Viktor Lorincz in the greco-roman 85kg class.