Remember my bus slamming in the morning?
At night, I bore witness to Part 2 of it. After a long but eventful day, I left the badminton venue after Sindhu's win and reached MTM for the ride back to the hotel.
Tired and hungry, I counted the minutes as my fellow journalists and photographers got dropped off at their hotels.
And, wait a minute ... Did the bus just drive past my hotel? I jumped out of my seat -- my tired legs finding new life -- and went to the driver (there's a poster in the bus that says 'Please don't talk to me while I am driving').
"My hotel! Please stop." In a more animated voice, I repeated, "My hotel ... please stop."
Unperturbed, the driver responded that he had to follow the route.
I turned around to see the other two left in the bus -- a journalist and an English photographer -- who looked at me with empathic understanding.
"What's happening?" I asked frantically.
The English photographer, who happens to be my hotel-mate, calmly told me, "It's been happening for over a week now. He follows the route, which means he has to drop the folks at the third hotel first before the final stop (which is Toyoko Inn, where we stay) though he has to cross Toyoko Inn to reach the third hotel. I have never spent this much time on a bus all my life," he added.
We kept sharing our woes and even shared a laugh at our helpless situation and pondered whether we should tamper with that list pasted on the bus -- and risk putting Hotel 4 ahead of Hotel 3.
"At least, they let us cover the Olympics, we should be happy for it," I added as the bus stopped at our destination. And as I got down the driver said "Sorry" with a sheepish smile. So he understands our predicament, but he has to follow the rules.
Tokyo is turning out to be quite an experience!
Archery: Deepika Kumari goes down to Korea's An San 6-0 in the quarterfinals of Women's Individual
Athletics: Avinash Sable finishes 7th in Round 1 of 3000m steeplechase; MP Jabir finishes 7th in Round 1 of Men's 400m hurdles; and Subha Venkatesan, Revathi Veeramani, Mohammed Anas and Arokia Rajiv finish 8th in Round 1 of Mixed 4x400 Relay
Badminton: PV Sindhu beats Japan's Akane Yamaguchi 21-13, 22-20 in quarterfinals of women's singles
Boxing: Simranjit Kaur loses to Thailand's Sudaporn Seesondee 0-5 in women's lightweight Round of 16; and Lovlina Borgohain defeats Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei 4-1 in women's welterweight quarterfinals
Equestrian: Fouaad Mirza finishes 7th in Dressage after 2nd session
Golf: Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane finish 20th and 57th respectively in Round 2 of men's individual finals
Hockey: India beat Ireland 1-0 in women's Pool A match; India beat Japan 5-3 in men's Pool A match
Sailing: KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar finish 17th in Race 9 of 49-er; Vishnu Saravanan finishes 20th in Race 10 of men's laser; and Nethra Kumanan finishes 35th in Race 10 of laser radial series
Shooting: Manu Bhaker and Rahi Sarnobat finish 15th and 32nd respectively in women's 25m pistol qualification
Boys in Blue take on Japan. Japan's hockey team transitions swiftly from defense to offense. Manpreet's boys need to stay on top of their game.
Pool A match, first quarter in progress. Harmanpreet Singh scores first goal for India.
Japan's hockey team fights back with full vigour. But Gurjant scores another goal!
Kenta Tanaka scores a goal for Japan!
The halftime hooter goes off and India still leading by one point.
Kota Watanabe fires the equaliser not long after the start of the third quarter, only for Shamsher Singh to help India regain the lead.
GOAAALL! Nilakanta sharma scores one for the Boys in Blue.
Complete domination by Indian men on the hockey stage.
Samurai spirit showing up in the game. Never give up! Japan scores another goal.
Our Chieftess (who jokingly rejected the moniker Woman Friday – on a Friday) sends in her much-awaited updates straight from Tokyo. Here we go. In her own words …
The Indian media contingent assembled at the Musashino Sports Plaza for the Sindhu match. The mixed doubles medals ceremony gave us time to bond a bit. I hear out of the original 50-odd Indian media contingent, only around 15 made it to Tokyo due to the Covid pandemic and strict protocols. And I could be the only woman so far from the Indian media in Tokyo! I even bumped into Vrushali and Manasi, two volunteers from India, besides Karishma Singh (Times Now) and Janhavee Moole (BBC India) – all four women were there to cheer our Superwoman Sindhu.
It was tense from the start. The atmosphere, unlike the morning Lovlina bout, was quiet. It was also respect for the host-nation opponent Japan's Akane Yamaguchi, who had beaten Sindhu three times in the last four encounters including the All England Championships. We were wary of the fact that she could grind our girl.
So, the first game was key. And Sindhu brought her A-game to the table. On the mark from the start, the smashes and more importantly her drop-smashes winning key points. The longest rally was 29 strokes and a couple more involving 26 strokes -- all ending in favour of Sindhu. There was a key challenge too that she won to go up 19-13 and close out the game 21-13 in 24 minutes. And when the Great Indian Fan Om Prakash Mundraji quipped 'IN' for India, everyone in the stadium rejoiced.
It was a lighter moment, but it was not over yet as we all knew. As did Sindhu. Yamaguchi came out harder in the second game. There wasn't much to choose between the two. But Sindhu soon raced to a 14-8 lead. When we thought the win could be closer, Yamaguchui came up with a 54-stroke rally. The Japanese, in fact, won all the long rallies in the second games as well as all the challenges turning it around to go two points from taking the second game. But Sindhu fought back and how to make it to her second straight Olympics semifinals.
Sify.com asked what were the learnings from this match that she could take into the semifinal, and PV Sindhu answered:
Even though you are leading never expect that it will finish easy, but you always have to be prepared and even though you are leading or trailing behind 20-18 you should never lose hope and fight back, and I think that's what I have learnt.
What a nail-biting finish! 56 minutes on, world-class champ PV Sindhu ups her attack, keeps her composure, channels the mounting pressure and goes on to win the match, thereby securing her berth in the women's singles semifinals. Her Korean coach is super enthralled!
It's been a long match and the exhaustion shows.
Broken string in Sindhu's racquet. Pressure shifts to Sindhu. Akane fights back.
Beautifully played! Calls for challenge.
But Akane is a gritty player too.
Akane is getting displaced, pressure is writ large on her face. Her coach shares a few tips during her short break.
In the second set, Akane resumes her attack, making a comeback, but Sindhu tries to outwit her.
After a power-packed 23-minute match, PV Sindhu wins first set by 21-13
Challenged by Sindhu. Proved successful
Good fight by Akane. But Sindhu keeps her calm and keeps the pressure on her opponent.
Sindhu is ready for Akane's attack, returns with superb backhand smashes.
Akane loses her footwork again, slips on court for the second time. Sindhu unleashes her attack. Halfway through the match.
Fleet-footed Akane anticipates Sindhu's moves beautifully. Marginal lead gained by Sindhu.
Good returns by Sindhu, but Akane is known for her deceptive strokes. Akane loses her footwork and slips on court.
Musashino Forest sport Plaza serves as a multipurpose sports venue. As of now, this is where PV Sindhu will take on her Japanese opponent Akane Yamaguchi. The match, which was to start at 1:15 pm, has been delayed. It will begin at 1:45 pm instead.
Sindhu and Akane have faced each other 18 times before this match. The record is 11-7 in the Indian's favour.
Our Chieftess shares the sights and sounds on her way to Musashino Forest Sport Plaza.
Not just me! Spanish journalist doing a LIVE TV chat during the bus journey.
Chennai is hot but Tokyo at the Games is very, very hot. Transport volunteer Minani poses for Sify.com at the MTM.
The rumoured typhoon not a threat anymore, I am guessing, because the umbrellas are up at MTM. Lucky today, waiting for Musashino bus under one of the volunteers' umbrella.
A quick roundup of the events lined up for the Indian Contingent at Tokyo going forward:
Up next is PV Sindhu's quarterfinal match against Japan's Akane Yamaguchi at 1:15 pm, followed by equestrian dressage featuring Bengalurean hunk Fouaad Mirza at 2 pm. At 3 pm, Manpreet and Co (men's hockey) will take on host Japan's home team. The final event of the day is 4x400m relay mixed round 1 - heats 2, featuring Alex Antony, Sarthak Bhambri, Revathi Veeramani and Subha Venkatesh.
Unfortunately for India and Deepika Kumari, there is no upset win today. Korea's An San begins with 10-10-10 in her first set and never lets up from there, winning the Women's Individual Quarterfinal 6-0. Maybe it was nerves or the terrible weather conditions, but Deepika started with a 7 in both the first and third sets, and that left her to play catch-up with the top seed.
This is still her best-ever finish at the Olympics and she is the first Indian to have reached the Women's Individual quarterfinals in Archery,
Can another Indian woman do it today? A tough ask for Deepika Kumari up next, as she takes on Korea's An San in the Women's Individual quarterfinal. As is expected of Korean archers, An San is in top form. In her round of 16 clash earlier today, she managed to score two sets with a score of 10-10-10. She already has two gold medals in Tokyo as well.
Maybe husband Atanu Das can inspire her! He is in the stands, just as Deepika was yesterday when he upset Korea's Jin-Hyek Oh in the 1/16 eliminations.
Finally! It really looked as if Ayeisha McFerran in Ireland's goal would not let anything past her today, but Navneet Kaur capitalizes on Rani Rampal’s shot gets the all-important breakthrough in the 57th minute to secure a 1-0 win in hot and humid conditions for the Indian women. Their first win in Tokyo keeps their hopes of making the quarterfinals alive.
The women will be back in action in less than 24 hours for their last Pool A match, against the lower-ranked South Africa. World No. 7 Ireland will take on defending champions Great Britain and it'll go down to the wire to see which four teams qualify for the next round. As things stand, Ireland are fourth, ahead of India only on goal difference.
Golf action began in the wee hours of the morning, with India's Anirban Lahiri and Udayan Mane in the fray. The second round has been halted, however, due to bad weather. As things stand, Anirban sits tied-21st, while Udayan is tied-59th.
Anirban finished Round 1 at 8th with a score of 4-under 67, while Udayan was last in the table among the 60 golfers taking part in Tokyo.
It all comes down to the last 15 minutes now. India will rue their 14 penalty corners if they fail to win this match and go out of contention for the quarterfinals. Navneet also came close in the 34th minute but just failed to put the stick on the ball. Incidentally, penalty corner specialist Gurjit Kaur has also been on the bench every time India have got a penalty.
Ireland's women's hockey team is playing in the Olympics for the first time, by the way, but they did win silver in the 2018 World Cup.
Nothing so far for India in track and field. In the third Athletics event of the day, Dutee Chand has failed to qualify for the Women's 100m semifinal, finishing 7th in heat 5 with a time of 11.54, overall at 45th out of 54 runners. Heat 5 was won by two-time Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica in 10.85 seconds.
The top three from each heat and the next three fastest make it to the 100m semifinals.
Dutee will hope to do better in the Women's 200m. This is the 25-year-old sprinter's second appearance at the Olympics.
10 penalty corners for India now! This is really wasteful from the Indian women in what is a do-or-die game. It remains scoreless at half-time, Earlier, goalkeeper Savita made a couple of good saves to hold off Ireland.
Our woman in Tokyo, Bhagya was fortunate enough to witness Lovlina win her quarterfinal bout and assure India of a boxing medal. She has more quarterfinals to attend, let's hope she brings us luck!
After missing out on Mary Kom's bout last night, it was my first time at the Kokugikan Arena boxing ring and what an atmosphere it was! As I walked in, Simranjit Kaur was in the middle of her bout and it didn't look good for India.
Simran lost and a lull followed among the Indian media contingent and the officials, who are the only cheerleaders here in Tokyo.
I took my position and my heart was already beating in anticipation of the Lovlina Borgohain quarterfinal bout. Will she secure India's second medal in Tokyo? I arrested such thoughts and focused on the moment.
After the initial formalities, the bout began. And boy, our Lovlina was on target from the word go!
Three 10s in the first round from the umpires and 10s from all five umpires.in the 2nd round..
I didn't watch the final round score as we were celebrating - my first Olympic medal moment!
"Now that the medal is confirmed, I can fight freely in the semifinals. I am going for gold," was Lovlina's short description of the moment.
It's still sinking in as I head to the bus stop to get to MTM. Will share reactions and more soon. Next stop is Musashino Forest Sports Plaza. Sindhu, here we come! And then will try to get to Deepika Kumari at the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field.
Until then enjoy these long-shot pics from the Lovlina bout
The Indian women's hockey team will hopefully take inspiration from Lovlina! In their must-win Pool A match against Ireland, a dominant start and a number of penalty corners go to waste as the first quarter ends 0-0.
Rani Rampal's women are yet to win a game in Tokyo, with defeats to the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain so far. They are currently fifth in the standings ahead of South Africa - against whom they play their last match - due to goal difference. Only the top four teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals, so they need to win today to stand a chance.
With both boxers who lose in the semifinals assured of a bronze, it means Lovlina is sure to bring back a medal for India. She'll be hoping to improve the colour, I'm sure!
She's just gone and assured India of their second medal of the Tokyo Olympics!
Assam's Lovlina Borgohain has won her quarterfinal bout against Chen Nien-Chin of Chinese Taipei in the Women's Welter (64-69kg) category in style, with a 4:1 split decision in her favour.
Lovlina, in red, began confidently and used her height advantage in her favour to negate her opponent's attacks. The referee was forced to intervene as the two boxers got entangled quite often. However, Lovlina won the second round unanimously and ended the third on a high to come out on top. This is a superb display by the 23-year-old against Chen Nien-Chin, who is the World Championship gold medallist and had won all the 3 previous bouts between the two. Great time to break the jinx!
It's almost time for Lovlina Borgohain, who could win us our second medal in Tokyo. It won't be easy, of course, but can she do it?
Not a great show from MP Jabir, the first athlete in 33 years to represent India in the Men's 400m Hurdles. He clocked 50.77 seconds, well below his personal best of 49.13, to finish last (7th) among seven participants in heat 5. He does not qualify for the semifinals. He finished 33rd overall among the 36 competing athletes.
The previous Indian to represent India in this event was PT Usha.
Her opponent was far more experienced - Sudaporn Seesondee is a two-time World Championships medallist and won gold in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and the silver in the 2018 Asian Games. On the other side, this was Simranjit's first match at the Olympic stage. Nerves look to have played a part as the 26-year-old from Punjab is comprehensively beaten by Seesondee in the Women's Lightweight (60kg) Round of 16 by unanimous decision.
Simranjit, in blue, could not find a way past her Thai opponent's agility and calculated aggression, in spite of giving it her all. The fourth seed managed to get close and land a few hooks and punches of her own, but it wasn’t enough.
Indian women’s hockey team must-win group match against Ireland has been postponed due to rain at the Oi Hockey Stadium. It will now begin at 9:15am.
So, what's lined up next?
India will be hoping Lovlina Borgohain can guarantee us our second medal of this Olympics by winning her bout against Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei in the Women's 69kg quarterfinal bout.
But first up is Simranjit Kaur Baath, taking on Sudaporn Seesondee of Thailand in the Women's Light (57-60kg) Round of 16. The 26-year-old is the only Indian woman boxer who is seeded (4th) at Tokyo and received a bye in the first round, so this is her first match and also her Olympic debut.
Here's hoping the boxing ring can bring some good news for Indians after yesterday's heartbreak for Mary Kom.
Manu Bhaker's painful campaign at the Tokyo Olympics is over. In the Rapid round, she starts slow with a 96, and follows it up with a 97 and 97 to end with a second-stage score of 290 and a total score of 582 in the Women's 25m Pistol Qualification. She had earlier scored 292 in the Precision round and was 5th overnight. She finishes 15th in the table, which means she has no chance of going through to the final.
Earlier, Rahi Sarnobat was already ruled out after finishing with a total score of 573 to come 32nd in the table.
Shooting really has been India's biggest disappointment in Tokyo.
Avinash Sable finished 13th fastest overall among the 41 runners in the Men's 3000m Steeplechase. His timing of 8:18.12 actually sets a new national record (the sixth time he has done this), breaking his own national record of 8:20.20 set at the Federation Cup earlier this year. Unfortunately, he was in a difficult heat, where he could only manage a 7th place. His time was actually better than the top three runners in heat 3, who made the cut for the final. If he has been in that heat instead of heat 2, he would have made it through. Tough luck!
The top 3 from the three heats and the next six fastest qualifiers make the medal race.
Can Deepika do what husband Atanu Das did and defeat another Korean in archery? She will need to, if she is to progress in the Women's Individual event. She faces top seed An San of South Korea in the quarterfinals, set to take place at 11:30am.
At the Asaka Shooting Range, Rahi Sarnobat is out of contention for the final of the Women's 25m Pistol. In the Rapid round, she can only manage a score of 286. Together with her 287 in the first Precision round yesterday, this leaves her at the 32nd spot in the table at the moment, so she is out. Only the top 8 will qualify for the final.
The better-placed Manu Bhaker will get her chance soon.
One of the biggest draws, it really starts feeling like the Olympics when athletics begins!
First up for India is Avinash Sable in the Men's 3000m Steeplechase Round 1. In Heat 2, the 26-year-old finishes 7th and thus he fails to qualify. However, he clocked 8:18.12 to break his own national record, so well done to Avinash!
In case you don't know the rules, only the top 3 finishers in each heat and the next 6 fastest advance to the final.
Deepika made it close, needing a shoot-off much like husband Atanu Das yesterday, but is on target to beat ROC's Ksenia Perova.
The Indian archer began her Women's Individual 1/8 Eliminations match in top form. She hit remarkable 10s, including a bulls-eye with her second arrow, but a 7 at the end of the second set and at the start of the fifth cost her, forcing World No. 1 into a shoot-off with the a two-time Olympic silver medallist. Going second in the windy conditions, Deepika maintained her composure to hit another 10 and make it to the quarterfinals.
Another Indian into the last-8! Let's hope we can actually convert some of these later in the day.
And what does the schedule look like for Sify.com's Bhagya? She is in Tokyo to cover India's hectic day, but her first challenge is to figure out the bus schedule to reach the venues!
Everyday when I wake up at around 5.30am JST (my morning tennis partners back home will be pleased to know of this newly-acquired habit!), I chart out the day's plan in my mind. Yesterday's went something like this - Hotel to shooting range first stop, and then a bit of other venues in between, and finally the boxing venue, Kokugikan Arena. But everything went wrong after my trip to the Asaka Shooting Range, ending in agony in the evening as I missed the slot to board the Kokugikan bus because the one to pick me up from my hotel and drop me off at the MTM arrived 20 minutes late. I missed witnessing in person Mary Kom's heartwarming gesture after her heartbreaking defeat. Our life here revolves around the MTM in Tokyo, with the expensive taxis being the only other option to shuttle between venues.
Today I have jotted down my overambitious plan.
But, it's already off to a stuttering start as the scheduled 9:08am bus didn't arrive and I wasted 40 minutes at the bus stop. Just boarded the 9:48 bus. After the lessons learnt yesterday, my plan's on as there's still close to 2 hours to make it to the boxing venue where Simranjit Kaur will begin her campaign and later Lovlina will look to confirm India's first medal in boxing this edition.
We will start the morning with Shooting updates from the 25m Pistol event where Manu Bhaker and Rahi Sarnobat will be in action at the Asaka Shooting Range in the Rapid Qualification round. 19-year-old Manu is in contention after an impressive 292 in the Precision Qualification round, that helped her to 5th position. The top 8 at the end of the Rapid round will qualify for the final.
Over in Archery, Deepika Kumari will be aiming for the quarters, while later on in the day, India will be hoping PV Sindhu and Lovlina Borgohain can secure another medal for India after Mirabai Chanu's silver in Tokyo.
Take a look at India's complete schedule today:
A warm welcome to Day 8's coverage of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Undoubtedly Day 7 was a moving day for the Indians in Tokyo - there weren't just wins, but brilliant efforts on the field. Starting with PV Sindhu keeping India's hopes in badminton alive by storming into the quarters; under-fire Manu Bhaker finding her rhythm at the Asaka Shooting Range; followed by Manpreet's hockey team's victory over Argentina to qualify for the knockouts; the stunning show in archery at the Yumenoshima Field, with Atanu Das' outstanding effort; and Satish Kumar scripting history in the Men's Super Heavyweight category in boxing, entering the last-8. Except for the heartbreak at the fag end when Mary Kom magnificently bowed out, it was by far the best day at the 32nd edition of the Olympics for India, albeit without the addition of a medal.
But akin to a Roger Federer serve setting up a 1-2 finish, the rewards could be earned starting today.
So, how well the Indians finish will be today's story. And we will bring to you the updates as and when it unfolds.