London: Beijing Games bronze medalist Vijender Singh was knocked out of the 75kg quarter-finals by Uzbek rival Abbos Atoev to dash his hopes of replicating his epoch-making 2008 feat while triple jumper Renjith Maheshwary departed with a whimper after fouling all his attempts at the Olmpics here.
Strong medal hope Vijender was bundled out of the ring by former 81kg world champion Atoev, a rival whom the Indian had vanquished in the final of the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, with a 17-13 verdict in a late night bout yesterday.
The 26-year-old boxing ace’s elimination came on the heels of “Magnificent” Mary Kom’s grand entry into the semi-finals of the 51kg division of the women’s event to temper Indian celebrations.
More discouraging news came from the athletics arena when Maheshwary, a bronze medal winner at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, was simply overwhelmed by the occasion and fouled all his three attempts to crash out of the event.
Vijender and Atoev have clashed quite a few times in the past and knew each other’s plus and minus points but the bout lacked energy.
The Beijing Games hero just could not raise the tempo when it mattered the most as his Uzbek rival intelligently fended off his punches and launched counter-attacks.
Vijender, a former world number one, adapted a more attacking strategy in the third and final round after conceding a lead to Atoev, but the Uzbekistan boxer was equal to the task as he defended the punches deftly and counter-attacked fiercely to earn the verdict in his favour.
The exit of the Bhiwani boxer has left Indian medal hopes in the men’s competition to just one – Laishram Devendro Singh – in the 49kg weight category.
Five other boxers, along with Vijender, have been sent packing from the ring.