Rio de Janeiro:
Shuttler PV Sindhu and wrestler Sakshi Malik scripted a new chapter in Indian Olympic history with their unprecedented feats but the embattled Narsingh Yadav's dreams lay in tatters after being slapped with a four-year doping ban on a bitter-sweet day for the country at the Rio Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Sindhu made a historic entry into the final of badminton women's singles event, hours after Sakshi had nailed the country's first medal following 11 blank days in this Brazilian city.
However, in a stunning reversal of fortunes, controversial male wrestler Narsingh was ousted from the Games and slapped with a four-year ban for flunking a dope test after Court of Arbitration for Sports overturned the clean chit given to him by the National Anti-Doping Agency.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had appealed against the NADA all-clear to Narsingh at CAS, three days ahead of his scheduled opening bout at the Olympics.
"...Narsingh Yadav was sanctioned with a four-year ineligibility period starting today and that any period of provisional suspension or ineligibility effectively served by the athlete before the entry into force of this award shall be credited against the total period of ineligibility to be served," CAS said in a statement after the hearing, which lasted four hours last night.
"The CAS Panel did not accept the argument of the athlete that he was the victim of sabotage and noted that there was no evidence that he bore no fault, nor that the anti-doping rule violation was not intentional. Therefore the standard 4-year period of ineligibility was imposed by the Panel," it added.
On the brighter side, the lanky Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, ensured at least a silver medal to add to the country's near-empty kitty after Sakshi had captured the bronze in 58 kg women's wrestling when she outclassed Japan's world no. 6 Nozomi Okuhara with clinical perfection.
With Thursday's brilliant show Sindhu, ranked 10th in the world, went one better than her senior Saina Nehwal, bronze medal winner in London four years ago, and became the first ever Indian to enter the summit clash of the shuttle game in the quadrennial sports spectacle.
Sindhu defeated her short-statured, third-seeded Japanese rival, the current All England champion, 21-19 21-10 in 49 minutes with superb, attacking play to enter tomorrow's gold medal clash.
The Indian shuttler from Hyderabad, a two-time bronze medallist in World Championships, will meet Spain's world no. 1 Carolina Marin, who ousted defending champion Li Xuerei of China in the first semi-final with a 21-14 21-16 victory, in the final.
Sindhu's heart-warming feat came a day after Haryana woman grappler Sakshi had won a bronze to end the medal drought for India in the Games on the 12th day of competition. However, another wrestler made a tame exit from the competition today to end the women's campaign here.
Babita Kumari lost her opening women's 53 kg category wrestling bout 1-5 against Maria Prevolaraki of Greece and got eliminated from the Games.
Much was expected of Babita, winner of two medals in past Commonwealth Games and bronze medallist in the World Championship in 2012, when she got on the mat a day after teammate Sakshi's epoch-making first medal in women's wrestling.
But the 26-year-old grappler could not succeed against the tight defense put up by her Greek rival and lost points in both the periods of their pre-quarter final bout.
And when Maria too lost her quarter-final bout against Venezuela's Betzabeth Angelica Arguello Villegas 3-6, it spelt curtains for the Indian's slim hopes of replicating Sakshi and win a bronze through the repechage process.
On Wednesday, while Sakshi won bronze in the 58 kg, Babita's cousin Vinesh Phogat suffered a ligament tear during her bout in the 48 kg class against a Chinese rival, got stretchered out and also bowed out of the wrestling competition.
But in a massive disappointment for India, Narsingh's verdict marked a painful end to the sordid controversy which began with the wrestler failing a June 25 test.
The 27-year-old's name had appeared in the official Olympic schedule after he underwent the mandatory weigh-in. He was to take on France's Zelimkhan Khadjiev in the qualification round but the CAS verdict has dashed all his hopes.
The embattled 74kg category grappler had maintained all along that his scandalous dope test was a result of conspiracy by rivals who spiked his food or drinks.
Having grabbed the quota by virtue of his World Championships bronze in Las Vegas last year, Narsingh's road to Rio was fraught with obstacles after he was named to represent India ahead of double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar. Sushil dragged Narsingh to the Delhi High Court and a bitter courtroom tussle followed but the judgement went in latter's favour.