Every new edition of the Olympic games, predictions begin in terms of the number of medals that the country will win. This time was no different either, as there were endless predictions and a massive focus on medal prospects for India from the Tokyo games. However, one sport that surely went under the radar was Sailing. There were no real medal expectations from this sport, but it was fascinating to see a young Indian team go head to head against the best in the world. A four-member team represented India in their first-ever Olympic games, for which they had also qualified by merit.
India has had representation in Sailing
at the Olympics before Tokyo as well. Nachhatar Singh Johal was the most recent participant in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Overall, India has participated in Sailing for 6 Olympics before Tokyo since Munich in 1972. The difference this time around was the size of the team sent by India. Four young Indian sailors took part in three different Sailing events in Tokyo that just concluded today. There was also a piece of history attached to the team. Nethra Kumaran became the first Indian woman ever to take part for India in Sailing at the Olympics. The three other participants were Vishnu Saravanan, K.C. Ganapathi and Varun Thakkar.
Indian Sailing Team for Tokyo Olympics
In Sailing, depending on the event, there are 10-12 races spread across multiple days. The participants' score after each race is nothing but their rank after the race. The final score is the sum of the ranks of individual races, excluding one race with the lowest rank. This is the same scoring system used across all three events that had Indian participation.
Nethra participated in the Women's Laser Radial and a ten-race event spread over multiple days. In a 44 women event, Nethra started of with 33rd place finish in the first race. She made up for the early setback by finishing with a decent 16th and 15th places in the next two races. The 15th place finish was also her best placing across 10 races. However, there were inconsistent results that influenced her final ranking of 35. Her 40th place finish that was not counted in the final score was her worst placing.
K.C.Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar participated in the Men's 49er event, which is a 12 race event. Out of the 19 participants, they only managed to finish 17th overall. However, there were some very good finishes in certain races. In the sixth race, they obtained their best finish of 5th place ahead of multiple Olympic and world medalists. There were also 9th, and 11th place finishes to show on their cards.
Vishnu Saravanan comparatively had the best performance among the India contingent. He competed in the Men's Laser event, which had 35 participants in total. Vishnu was very consistent across the 10 races he took part in. His lowest ranking was 27, which already indicates how good he has been over the ten races. In the 9th race, he also managed to spring a surprise by finishing 3rd. He was also firmly placed to finish much higher in few other races until the last leg of the race, where he dropped off behind.
Overall the Indian contingent had given their best in their first-ever Olympics. Just to see them compete against the best in the world and still finish ahead of few stalwarts of the sport in some of their races is fascinating. The experience they would have gained from the previous week will only take them forward especially considering how young they are.
In the future, these performances should influence in getting a huge boost in financial and technical support given to the sailors. They did seem to have lacked the international exposure that could have caused the inconsistent results. With age on their side, they have multiple events, including Asian Games to look forward to in the next Olympic cycle. With Paris 2024 just three years away, there is hope that the performances will only improve from here on.