India at the Tokyo Olympics
July 20, 2021
By Sri Krishna
With the countdown having begun for the Tokyo Olympics, India which does not have a very impressive record as far as medals are concerned having won so far 28 medals which is 0.17 per cent of the total medals presented at the Olympics since the country began taking part in this mega sports event from 1900 onwards is once again aiming high with a massive build up.
With several events lined up globally, more contestants are expected to qualify for the Games. If one were to take the word of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Chief Narinder Batra, India would be able to send its largest-ever contingent of 135 athletes to Tokyo – a jump from 117 in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Indians are expected to participate in 18 sports at the Tokyo Olympics, compared to 15 in the Rio Games.
While shooting is India’s best shot, some other sports also offer realistic chances for Indians to win medals at Tokyo Olympics. A total of 115 Indian athletes have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics so far with the men’s and women’s hockey teams being the biggest followed by shooting and athletics. Shooting is set to be one of India’s best bets for a medal at the Tokyo Games. If India’s London Olympics performance of six medals is to be matched or bettered, shooters need to account for multiple medals. With India entering 15 shooters for the event, there are hopes of some medals being in the bag for the country.
Shooting is being considered as India’s best bet to win medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Such has been their consistency that it is almost certain that the country will win medals in shooting at Tokyo; the only question is how many?
Indian shooters have been producing their best performances consistently since 2018. Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary have clinched medals at almost every ISSF World Cup and established their place in the world’s top 5. India clinched 30 medals at the 2021 ISSF World Cup, New Delhi. Indian shooting team continued their stellar run even after a year gap due to COVID. Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Abhishek Verma, and Elavenil Valarivan are currently at the world rank one. They are followed by Manu Bhaker, Rahi Sarnobat, Saurabh Chaudhary, Divyansh Singh Panwar, and Aishwary Pratap Singh, who are at the world rank two.
The entries in the event are
10m Women’s Air Rifle – Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela
10m Men’s Air Rifle – Divyansh Singh Panwar, Deepak Kumar
10m Women’s Air Pistol – Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal
10m Men’s Air Pistol – Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma
25m Women’s Pistol – Rahi Sarnobat, Elavenil Valarivan
50m Women’s Rifle 3 Position – Tejaswini Sawant
50m Men’s Rifle 3 Position – Sanjeev Rajput, Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar
Men’s Skeet – Angad Veer Singh Bajwa, Mairaj Ahmad Khan
Wrestling is another strong suit for India with Vinesh Phogat and Bajrang Punia being the biggest medal hopes from the contingent.
Women’s Freestyle – Seema Bisla (50kg), Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Sonam Malik (62kg)
Men’s Freestyle – Ravi Kumar Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86 kg)
This will be the 20th Olympic Games to feature the Indian men’s hockey team, who are fourth in the world rankings as of now. Would Tokyo help India redeem itself in Hockey for it was here in 1964 that they won the Olympic Gold beating arch rivals Pakistan having lost in the previous 1960 Olympics in Rome to Pakistan. Sadly, India’s performance in the event which they had dominated for long in the Olympics has slipped out their grasp and are struggling to keep themselves afloat.
In badminton, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth failing to qualify for the Olympics was one of the biggest upsets from an Indian perspective this year. With wrestler Sakshi Malik also having failed to qualify, PV Sindhu is the only Olympic medallist in the Indian contingent for the Tokyo Games.
Women’s singles – PV Sindhu
Men’s singles – B Sai Parents
Men’s doubles – Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty
PV Sindhu, who won a silver medal in Badminton at Rio 2016, will be the only one in the Indian contingent to raise medal hopes for the country and all eyes would be on her.
Even though Indians have been among the best performing athletes in archery in various world events in the recent past, the Olympics have not seen too many notable performances. The biggest hope lie on the duo of Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari, who will compete in the individual events as well as the mixed team event.
Men’s Recurve – Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai, Pravin Jadhav
Women’s Recurve – Deepika Kumari
India will also have its biggest ever boxing contingent in Tokyo, with the iconic Mary Kom leading the charge.
MC Mary Kom (Women’s, 51 kg), Simranjit Kaur (Women’s, 60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (Women’s, 69kg), Pooja Rani (Women’s, 75kg)
Amit Panghal (Men’s, 52kg), Manish Kaushik (Men’s, 63kg), Vikas Krishan (Men’s, 69kg), Ashish Kumar (Men’s, 75kg), Satish Kumar (Men’s, 91kg)
Mirabai Chanu, who has been on a redemption run since her non-finish in Rio, will be the only Indian weightlifter at Tokyo 2020, but she is a medal contender, having breached the 300 kg barrier recently.
In Athletics where India have not been performing none too well, Neeraj Chopra is expected to be India’s biggest medal hope for the elusive athletics Olympic medal.
The other entries for athletics are
Men’s 3000m steeplechase – Avinash Sable
Men’s long jump – Murali Sreeshankar
Men’s 400m Hurdles – MP Jabir
Men’s javelin throw – Neeraj Chopra, Shivpal Singh
Men’s shot put – Tajinderpal Singh Toor
Women’s discus throw – Kamalpreet Kaur, Seema Punia
Women’s Javelin throw – Annu Rani
Women’s 100m, 200m – Dutee Chand
Men’s 20km race walking – KT Irfan, Sandeep Kumar, Rahul Rohilla
Women’s 20km race walking – Bhawna Jat, Priyanka Goswami
4×400 Mixed Relay, 4×400 Men’s Relay teams
However, for other events like Equestrian, Golf, Judo, Rowing and Sailing, the country may be just also ran. In Gymnastics after Dipa Karmakar’s success in Rio, Pranati Nayak is the second Indian woman to qualify for the Olympics.
In table tennis, with countries like China, Japan, the two Koreas and several European nations too fielding world class players, the going does appear tough and the only medal hopes rest on the mixed doubles pair of Manik Batra and Sharath Kamal. In tennis, there is some glimmer of a medal in the women’s doubles of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina.