New Delhi:Vijender Kumar's defeat in the semifinal of the middleweight boxing event in Beijing did hurt Vijender and his fans alike but at the same time he made a billion hearts swell with pride, as he became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal.
His achievement became all the more special as for the first time that India won three medals in the single Olympics (including Bindra's gold and wrestler Sushil Kumar's bronze).
NDTV.com tracks the bout-by-bout account of Vijender's valiant show in the Beijing Olympics.
In the Round of 32: Beat G J Badou Jack 13:2
Vijender Kumar beat Jack Badou of Gambia in the 75-kg bout to advance to the second round but that was just a glimpse of what was about to come.
Despite his impressive track record, all eyes and expectations were on the likes of A L Lakra and Akhil Kumar. With a thumping win in the first round, Vijender made his presence felt.
In the Round of 16: Beat Angkhan Chomphuphuang 13:3
Vijender stormed into the quarterfinals of 75kg middleweight event, overwhelmed Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand 13-3 in a lop-sided pre-quarterfinal bout.
Vijender attacked from the word 'go' and dominated the bout. His sharp reflexes and height did not allow the Thai pugilist to overpower him in any of the four rounds.
In the quarterfinal: Beat Carlos Gongora 9:4
A L Lakra crashed out in the first round of the featherweight category for being too cautious but other three pugilists - Akhil Kumar (Bantamweight), Jitender Kumar (Flyweight) and Vijender Kumar (Middleweight) - entered the quarterfinals of their respective events. While Jitender and Akhil bowed out, Vijender made sure he did not lose his control.
He beat Ecuador's Carlos Gongora 9-4 in the quarterfinal. With his sharp reflexes and sound defence, he did not allow his opponent to gain points. His victory in the quarters ensured him a bronze, which was India's first medal in boxing. But the Bhiwani-boy made it loud and clear that he was aiming the Gold.
In the semifinal: Lost to Emilio Correa Bayeaux 5:8
Vijender entered the ring for the semifinal encounter with the Cuba's Emilio Correa Bayeaux. In the Round of 32 and Round of 16, Emilio was lethal and drubbed his opponents 17:4 and 18:4 in the respective rounds. In the quarterfinals, he beat Elshod Rasulov 9:7. But that did not deter Vijender and he fought bravely. But the Cuban was too quick for him and had sound defence which did not allow the Haryana boxer score easily.
Vijender failed to open his account in the first round and Emilio led 2-0. In the next round, the Indian got the lead as he jabbed his opponent thrice on target but Emilio took the total lead to 4-3. With Vijender closing in, Emilio became more aggressive in the third round and increased his lead to 6-3.
The inevitable was looming large. However, in the last round, Vijender bounced back hard and grabbed two points. But unfortunately, his efforts fell short by three points and the Cuban cruised to the final.
Vijender Kumar's performance was exceptional in the Olympics and he showed a lot of promise and potential for the future. He lost in the semifinals not because he played badly but because his opponent played better!