The greatest sporting spectacle in the world is producing the greatest see-saw display. It is hard to believe, over the last eight or so days, how many times the triumph of the human spirit has been trumped. Also incredible is how many times we are reminded of the saying: You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.
And heroes there have been.
All hail Vijay Kumar, the shooter who beat, among others, world-record setting Alexei Klimov to win Silver in the men's 25 metre rapid fire event. A flawless start, then straightening in the middle, before overcoming a minor stumble to finish four behind Cuban Leuris Pupo, who scored 34.
After Gagan Narang’s Bronze heroics in the 10m air rifle event and this Silver, how we would love to see the law of averages stick to its current game plan. It doesn’t matter who our next hero is, we just want to see the sun gleam off a golden orb.
A shame that the four badminton doubles pairs had to go and ruin what was looking like the perfect Olympics. Ok, there have been the few doping exits, but which international sporting tournament doesn’t have those? Throwing matches to manipulate the draw has to be the lowest point of these Olympics. Yes, I am making a prediction.
Michael Phelps became the most successful Olympian ever, but Ryan Lochte signalled an apparent changing of the guard in the pool by trouncing his compatriot in the men’s 200m butterfly event. But in a script akin to any sports movie, Phelps battled back in the last leg of the 200m individual medley to beat Lochte and at last claim an individual gold medal. You just can’t keep him out of that top podium, can you?
Chinese teenager Ye Shiwen won medals and slashed seconds off world records as if she was out on a Sunday morning swim. It is an utter shame that American swimming coach John Leonard has publicly raised suspicion about doping over Ye. There is no basis for that yet. Even the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) do not have a problem, according to Lord Moynihan, chair of the British Olympic Association, who said: “We know how on top of the game. WADA have passed her as clean.
“That's the end of the story. And it is regrettable there is so much speculation out there. I don't like it. I think it is wrong.
“Let us recognise that there is an extraordinary swimmer out there who deserves the recognition of her talent in these Games.”
A see-saw display like no other. Except, one wonders if, much like those in the playground, the good side of the Olympics can only be appreciated and valued once the other side rears its head.\
Focus on India
Hark back to the point about seeing gold shine underneath the tricolour, Vijender Singh could well be our saviour. Especially as our other athletes have slowly but surely dropped out of contention, yes even the swimmer who qualified under the universality quota. Shocking, I know, but it happens.
Saina Nehwal bowed out of the women’s singles in Badminton to World number one Wang Yihan 21-13 21-13. The manner of defeat aside, Nehwal faces a battle for Bronze against Wang Xin tomorrow. If she can pull herself up from defeat and get on that podium, I doubt anyone would mind the colour of the medal.
After his narrow points win over American Gausha Terrell to book a quarter-final berth, Singh will be chomping at the bits to take on Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev. Singh’s Bronze from Beijing coupled with his dominant displays in London will almost certainly hold the advantage against Atoev, the Uzbek having struggled in the previous rounds despite his six-foot frame.
Men’s hockey has failed to impress in this tournament, but while I am not surprised, I was hopeful that we would be able to qualify for the knockout stages with a foreign coach to guide us. Instead, we have lost all three games played so far and are out of medal contention.
A narrow loss in the opener to Holland (3-2) could have been reversed when Sandeep Singh gave India the lead against New Zealand, but it ended 3-1 for the Black Sticks. Against Germany we were playing catch up for most of the game, and a 5-2 scoreline scuppered any remaining hopes of qualification.
I’m not hopeful of anything different against South Korea on Sunday, but a win against fellow strugglers Belgium in the last group game would be a nice way to leave London.
The double act of Saina and Singh, however, will be sure to add more colour in the next few days.
Bibhash Dash is an England-based freelance sports writer. He will write exclusively for us during the London Games. You can follow him on Twitter here @bibhashdash"