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A year ahead of Olympics, where do Indian athletes stand?

A year ahead of Olympics, where do Indian athletes stand?

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Published: 24 July 2019 1:38 PM GMT
Three hundred and sixty-five days! As the countdown clock for Tokyo 2020 Olympics ticks to one year today, Indians are once again weaving big dreams and expectations around the nation's athletes who are raring to raise our glory flag at the world's grandest sporting stage. So far, with 28 medals in 31 editions of the summer games, the Indian contingent has set sights on higher goals. We are harbouring a collective attitude of optimism and striving to enhance our medal haul. A glimpse of such optimism could be seen in the speech of our former Sports Minister and Olympics silver medallist shooter Col Rajyavardhan Rathore, who in his remarks at the Lok Sabha mentioned that India should aim to take its medal tally to 100 by the 2032 summer games. So far, the London Olympics in 2012 has proven to be India's best show at the Games with our athletes raking up six medals. However, the hopes of excelling from that position were only battered with just two medals coming up after four years of wait. After India's impressive performance at the latest editions of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, here's a look at how some of the major sports stand a year before the Olympics.


India's shooting prowess came to the fore after Rathore won the silver medal in the double trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The performance was further complemented when Abhinav Bindra won the first-ever and the only individual gold medal at the 2008 Games. Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang won silver and bronze respectively in London 2012. Following their footsteps, a fresh crop of Indian shooters have made India proud in multiple occasions, recently. With seven individual quotas already booked for the Olympics, the contingent will be spearheaded by Saurabh Chaudhury, the 2018 Asian Games gold medalist, who has already broken his own world record and has also won gold medals at world championships and world cups.
Saurabh Choudhary Besides, Apurvi Chandela and Anjum Moudgil, who hold the world no. 1 and 2 positions, respectively, have been in stellar shape that further strengthens our prospect at the Olympics. The recent streak of performances by other shooters like Abhishek Verma, Shahzar Rizvi, Manu Bhaker, Rahi Sarnobat, Heena Sidhu and Elavenil Valarivan harness a future that is full of possibilities.


India's performance in wrestling grabbed the limelight when Sushil Kumar bagged the bronze in Beijing 2008 and followed it up with a silver in London 2012. Yogeshwar Dutt won a bronze medal in the same year. The impressive performance continued as Sakshi Malik won the bronze in Rio 2016.
Bajrang Punia With eyes on Tokyo 2020, world no. 1 wrestler Bajrang Punia is India’s best bet, who clinched the silver medal at the World Championships in 2018 along with gold medals in Asian Games and the CWG. In the women's category, all eyes will be on Vinesh Phogat, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who had a demoralising exit in the quarterfinals of the Rio Games after experience a knee injury. The Indian wrestlers will eye their Tokyo berth at the World Wrestling Championship in September.


In archery, the men's recurve team has already won a berth at Olympics after the trio of Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai and Praveen Jadhav finished second behind China at the World Championships. Although the women, comprising Laishram Bombayla Devi, Deepika Kumari and Komalika Bari, did not manage to win a berth yet, they will aim to match the expectations at the Asian Archery Championships in November or the Tokyo 2020 qualifying event in June 2020.
Indian men's recurve archery team


So far, pugilists Vijender Singh and Mary Kom have brought India bronze medals at the 2008 and 2012 Games, respectively. Since then, there hasn't been any significant development in the Olympics. However, India can build hopes around Amit Panghal who won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games and would be excited to be a part of the men’s World Championships in Russia this September. Besides, Mary, who became the world no. 1 boxer last year would be going all out for her swansong at the Tokyo Olympics. Amit Panghal


National record holder, Kerala's Irfan KT, became the first Indian from athletics to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 in the race walking category. However, India has to stride a long mile to rip results in athletics. Hima Das, who recently won five golds in European tournaments would eventually aim to surpass her personal best in 400metre race and qualify for the World Championships in September. Although her recent success has led Indian to weave big Olympics hopes next year, she is still a long way from reaching the Olympics qualifying mark. Middle distance runner Mohammad Anas bettered his own national record in men's 400m to clinch gold and qualify for the World Championships. On the other hand, V.K. Vismaya remains India’s most improved woman athlete this year, who bettered her 400m personal best thrice within the last one month.
Neeraj Chopra India's best bet in Javelin Throw, Neeraj Chopra has been recovering from elbow surgery, and with one year in hand, the World No. 9, would aim to repeat his gold-medal-winning performances in the Asiad and CWG 2018.


Gone are the days, where India's rich haul of Olympics medal came from hockey. Between the 1928 Games in Amsterdam and 1980 Games in Moscow, the Indian men's hockey team brought 11 medals for the nation, including seven golds. However, similar success stories have not been scripted in over three decades. Indian team rues the opportunity to qualify at the 2020 Olympics directly, losing out at the Asian Games where they went as favourites. However, both the men's and women's team will be looking forward to playing the FIH Olympic Qualifiers after emerging as champions at the FIH Series Finals in recently.
Indian Women's Hockey Team


India's solo Olympics medal in weightlifting came from Karnam Malleshwari, who won the bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Games. After two decades of wait, Indian will be relying upon Saikham Mirabai Chanu, who won the gold medal at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships and another record-breaking gold at the 2018 CWG. After picking up the gold medal at the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship this month, she now sets her sights on the World Championship, scheduled to be held in September. After golds at the YOG 2018 and Commonwealth Weightlifting Championship in the men's category, 16-year-old Mizo boy Jeremy Lalrinnunga has grabbed eyeballs with his recent streak of success. He will also be looking forward going into the World Championships in September where he would be tested among the best of the world.
Mirabai Chanu


Dipa Karmakar's stellar performance in the Rio 2016 Games grabbed the limelight as she finished fourth in the vault, narrowly missing out on a medal. Though she is keeping out of recent tournaments owing to injury, there's a possibility she might be back. Besides, Pranati Nayak will also aim big who recently, won her first international medal - a bronze in vault competition of the senior Asian artistic gymnastics in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Dipa Karmakar


Though India's ace shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu brought glory to India with her bronze and silver medals in 2012 and 2016, respectively, 2019 has been a lacklustre year for the Indian baddies with no major trophy coming this year, India's hope will be rested again on the duo. Sindhu's best performance this year has been reaching the Finals of the Indonesia Open, where she lost to Akane Yamaguchi. On the other hand, Kidambi Srikanth has struggled with his consistency lately to find his footing.
P V Sindhu

Table Tennis

Indians have never tasted this much success in table tennis in the past couple of years. The likes of G Sathiyan, Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal, Harmeet Desai, Ayhika Mukherjee have all tasted success in the recent outings at the CWG and Asiad in 2018, followed by the recently-concluded Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship in Cuttack. With their coach dilemma resolved yesterday, the Indian team will be aiming to pull off a tough challenge to against their Chinese and English rivals, who have dominated the shown in the Olympics so far. Indian Table Tennis Team


Bhavani Devi had a breakout performance at the ongoing World Fencing Championships, in the Individual Women’s Sabre event, where she reached the pre-quarterfinals. However, she has miles to go before attaining elite status. But, she has put herself firmly in the qualification race for Tokyo and has a great chance of becoming the first Indian Olympic fencer. Bhavana Devi With a year remaining for the Olympics, many of the athletes will be aiming to be a part of the Indian contingent and have to aim every day to excel as the Games remain the greatest sporting show in the world.
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