So NEAR and yet so FAR

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Kolkata: The Indians are still basking in the grandeur of Neeraj Chopra’s historic gold at the Tokyo Olympics. After 13 years of waiting, the country has finally won an Olympic gold medal and deservingly, India brought home its seventh metal piece from the Japanese capital, surpassing the 2012 London Olympics’ count of six.

While the likes of Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, as well as PV Sindhu, Lovlina Borgohain, and the Indian men’s hockey team, rose to the grandest occasion of the Olympics, there were many Indians just a feather away from finishing on the podium.

Sportslight Media takes a look at those Indian athletes who were so near yet so far.

Aditi Ashok (Golf)

Aditi Ashok was on the verge of making history as the first Indian golfer to clinch an Olympic medal but fell just short in Tokyo. However, the 23-year-old finished a remarkable fourth in the women’s event. She finished just two shots behind gold medalist Nelly Korda of the United States and a shot behind silver and bronze medalists Mone Inami of Japan and Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

Indian women’s hockey team 

The Indian women’s hockey team offered one of the most inspiring stories at the Tokyo Olympics. Led by Rani Rampal, the Indian eves had their best-ever Olympics, as they made it to the semifinals for the first time in the history of the Olympics. They defeated Australia 1-0 in the quarterfinals.

However, it was devastating for India in the semis losing to Argentina in the semifinal. They had another chance to win a medal but lost 3-4 to Great Britain in the bronze medal match.

Deepak Punia (Wrestling)

Deepak Punia’s Olympic campaign began exactly as he had hoped, with a victory over Nigeria’s Ekerekeme Agiomor in the first round. Punia then defeated China’s Lin Zushen 6-2 in the quarterfinals and was just a win away from assuring himself an Olympic medal. However, the Indian surrendered against the legendary David Taylor in the semifinals.

The Indian wrestler still had another shot at the medal and was on the right track. But with just six seconds to go in the bout, San Marino’s Miles Amine came up with a takedown right to dash Punia’s hopes.

Satish Kumar (Boxing)

Satish Kumar became the first Indian super heavyweight boxer to qualify for the Olympics straightaway entered the quarterfinals defeating Jamaica’s Ricardo Brown 4-1. From the outside, the scoreline might leave everyone thing Satish had it easy but in reality, it was not.

He won his fight, but it left him bruised and his participation in the next round was being scrutinised because of several deep cuts on his face. With as many as 13 stitches on his face, Satish got the medical nod and was up against world champion Bakhodir Jalolov for a place in the semis and also a medal.

However, the Indian looked helpless against Jalolov surrendering to him by technical superiority. Satish lost the bout but he won for India with his will to fight despite wholesome of 13 stitches.

Pooja Rani (Boxing)

Pooja Rani began her Olympic debut in Tokyo with a bang defeating Algeria’s Ichrak Chaib in her first bout. Touted as one of the medal contenders, the 2021 Asian Champion was pitted against China’s  Li Qian.

The 30-year-old pugilist gave it her all, but it wasn’t enough against Qian, who dominated all three rounds and won by unanimous decision. India witnessed the defeat but was filled with pride because she had performed admirably in her Olympic debut and was only one win away from a medal.

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