30 days for Tokyo Olympics: 30 things we expect from India at the Games
With just 30 days remaining for the sporting extravaganza, here's a look at 30 things we can expect from India at the Tokyo Olympics:
The journey on the road to the Olympics grows shorter, the Tokyo games officially kick off in one month. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has wished the Olympic-bound Indian contingent the very best for the upcoming Tokyo 2020. Tokyo Olympics will begin on July 23 and will run up to August 8 this year. The event was slated to be held last year, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With just 30 days remaining for the sporting extravaganza, here's a look at 30 things we can expect from India at the Tokyo Olympics:
- It is expected that India will send its largest-ever contingent for the Tokyo Olympics. Till date, India's largest contingent at an Olympics was at Rio 2016, where it had sent 117 athletes. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra said earlier that the Indian contingent for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be around 190, including 135 athletes. So far, 102 Indian athletes have confirmed their entry into the Olympics.
- For the first time, it is expected that India will have a bumper harvest at the Olympics, with the number of medals going double-digit. Earlier in April this year, Olympic analysts Gracenote had projected that if the Tokyo Olympics were held in that month, India would have equaled its combined tally of the last 12 Games to win 17 medals, including four gold. So far, India's highest medal tally at a single Olympics has been six, which they won in the London Games in 2012.
- India will have its biggest medal harvest in shooting. Indian shooters have kept on dominating the world circuit with some extremely well performances in the ISSF World Cups. Shooters like Saurabh Chaudhury, Manu Bhaker, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Anjum Moudgil, Abhishek Verma have time and again consistently performed over a couple of years, thus making them some of the best bets to win multiple medals in the Tokyo Olympics.
- Shooter Saurabh Chaudhury could win a gold medal in shooting at the Tokyo Olympics. Chaudhury came into the scene at the 2018 Asian Games where he won a gold medal in the 10m Air Pistol. Since then, there's been no stopping the teenager, who secured a quota for the Olympics with gold medal on home soil at the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi in 2019. Saurabh Chaudhary has already won five gold medals at ISSF World Cups and also nabbed a silver medal at the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships in Qatar.
- Pistol shooter, Manu Bhaker has multiple podium finishes under her belt and is currently ranked World number 2 in both the Tokyo 2020 Rankings and 2021 World Rankings. She has time and again proved her mettle at the global level and will surely be one of India's best medal-bets at the Tokyo Olympics.
- Abhishek Verma took up shooting very late in his life. Verma is currently ranked number 1 in the Tokyo 2020 Rankings and world number 3 in 2021 World Rankings. Competing alongside Saurabh Chaudhary in the 10m air pistol event, there are high chances that we might see them together sharing the podium at Tokyo.
- A rifle shooter from the state of Rajasthan, Divyansh Panwar, competing in the 10m air rifle event shot to fame through his performances at the 2018 ISSF Junior World Cup. There has been no looking back since for the young Panwar, who is currently ranked number 2 in Tokyo 2020 Rankings, number 3 in 2021 World Rankings, and will enter Tokyo as India's best shooter in men's 10m air rifle.
- Elavenil Valarivan, who mainly competes in the 10m air rifle event. rose to fame with her performances at the ISSF Junior World Cup in 2018. Even though she was not the one who won the quota for India, she was accommodated into the squad due to her consistency in the past few years. She is currently ranked number 1 in the Tokyo 2020 Rankings and number 12 in the 2021 World Rankings, we expect to see her make a podium finish in Tokyo.
- Rifle shooter Aishwary Tomar will be seen competing in the 50m rifle 3 positions at Tokyo. Tomar is currently ranked number 2 in Tokyo 2020 Rankings and number 1 in the 2021 World Rankings. With the kind of form he was in during the recently concluded ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, a podium finish at Tokyo might not be a tough job to accomplish for Aishwary Tomar.
- India could field its biggest ever women's contingent at the Tokyo Olympics. The highest number of Indian women representation at the Olympics has been 54 in the Rio 2016 Games. With already 46 women making into the Tokyo Games and several others in the contention, the number could well exceed the total of Rio games.
- India has been long starving for a medal in athletics, which might be achieved this year. Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, long jumper Sreeshankar Murali, discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, Shot putter Tajinder Toor have given us hopes, which can translate into medals at the hallowed ground. It is not a hidden fact that athletics is one of the disciplines which has the most number of medal events and as a result, the Indian federations and associations have been at it to produce a medallist in that field.
- Going by the form India men's hockey team has a realistic chance of clinching a medal at the Olympics after a gap of 40 years. Currently ranked no. 4 in the world, the Men in Blue have been in the blazing form off late. In the FIH Hockey Pro League, they have beaten the top three teams in the world in Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands. The squad has the perfect blend of youth and experience and after several years, they are looking like real contenders.
- Indian women's hockey team, on the other hand, has the potential to reach till the semifinals. Unline the men's team, the women's hockey team is ranked ninth in the world. But again, going by their abilities to pull off surprises, Rani Rampal's team could be the dark horses at the Tokyo Olympics.
- Indian archers have long been waiting for their deserving medal at the Olympics. Deepika Kumari who had been the world no. 1 archer, had to miss out on her medal dreams in London 2012 and Rio 2016. With her making into the team once again, Dipika will be bringing experience with her to win India's first-ever medal in archery in the women's individual category and also probably in the mixed team event with her husband Atanu Das.
- India's ace badminton player PV Sindhu could win another Olympic medal in Tokyo. Sindhu showed her mettle recently, reaching the finals of the Swiss Open, followed by a semifinal entry into the All England Open Badminton Championships. But if one takes a look at her form, it is not easy to see that her consistency has dipped enormously. Sindhu pulled off a surprise by winning a silver medal at the Rio Games. Often considered as a big match player, country's expectation will be on her to win the second silverware at the Games.
- The men's doubles badminton pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty won the Thailand Open Super 500 and became the first Indian men's doubles pair to win a Super 500 title after they beat the then reigning world champions Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen. The duo then made the final of the French Open Super 750 event and broke into the top 10 in the world - also the first Indian men's doubles pair ever to do so.Chirag and Satwiksairaj had climbed several places to a career-best ranking of world No. 7 in 2019. Following the COVID-19 break in 2020, the pair reached the semi-finals of two tournaments out of the four they played in 2021. With the ability to pull off surprises, Satwik and Chirag are poised to display a good result in Tokyo and if luck prevails, a medal is not a distant dream.
- Indian archers have long been waiting for their deserving medal at the Olympics. Deepika Kumari who had been the world no. 1 archer, had to miss out on her medal dreams in London 2012 and Rio 2016. With her making into the team once again, Deepika will be bringing experience with her to win India's first-ever medal in archery in the women's individual category and also probably in the mixed team event with her husband Atanu Das.
- India could produce its best-ever result in Olympics in the boxing event in Tokyo. Indian boxers have so far won two medals at the Olympics - one by Vijender Singh in Beijing 2008, another by Mary Kom in London 2012. India is sending a nine-member boxing contingent to the games. India has produced some of the best boxers in the world of late, with several of them dominating the rankings. Amit Panghal is ranked World no. 1 in the 52kg category in the men's, Manish Kaushik is ranked sixth in the 64kg category. India's greatest boxer of all time, Mary Kom is ranked third in the 51kg category, Simranjit Kaur is ranked sixth in the 64kg category, Pooja Rani is ranked eighth in the 81kg category, whereas, Lovlina is ranked third in the 69kg category. Backed by a good streak of form, Indian boxers have the potential to bring multiple medals from Tokyo Olympics.
- India also has the potential to have the best results in wrestling at the Tokyo Olympics. India has produced its best-ever result in wrestling at the London 2012 Games, where they had won two medals. The Indian wrestlers will still have a shot at history when the Indian wrestling team of seven members goes to Tokyo Olympics.
- Indian men's wrestler Bajrang Punia has a big chance of winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The United World Wrestling(UWW) has announced seeding for the Tokyo Olympics in different weight categories of men's freestyle. India's top hope for the Olympic medal in Tokyo, Bajrang Punia, is seeded second in the 65kg weight category by UWW behind the top-seeded Russian Gadzhimurad Rashidov.
- Like Bajrang, Vinesh Phogat is also expected to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Vinesh could be the second Indian female wrestler to win an Olympic medal after Sakshi Malik earned the honour in the Rio Games in 2016. Vinesh Phogat has been top-seeded in the women's 53kg category for the Tokyo Olympics.
- India's legendary boxer Mary Kom is poised to win her second medal at the Olympics in Tokyo which is going to be her swansong. The pint-sized boxer is one of the most decorated women fighters in the amateur game with a record six world championships titles, the last of which came in 2018. She has also won gold medals at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games.
- Despite being the best in business, the one dream that has always eluded Deepika was an Olympic medal. With two misses in two consecutive Olympics, Deepika once again stands a chance to claim the elusive medal when she goes to Tokyo in July 2021. Currently ranked number three in the world, Deepika had secured an individual quota after winning the Gold medal finish at the Asian continental qualifier in Bangkok in November 2019. She is also eligible to take part in the mixed team event as of now.
- At 26, Mirabai Chanu will be the only Indian representation in the sport at the Tokyo Olympics. However, the Indian is expected to be seeded second in Tokyo with a total of 4,13,36,172 points in the Women's 49kg weight division. With 4,92,64,422 points, China's Hou Zhihui will be the top seed at the Olympics. With North Korea withdrawing from the Olympics, it is likely to be a two-way race between Chanu and the lifter representing China in the 49kg category. Though a silver medal at Tokyo lies in the card for Chanu, she is determined to do better than traditional powerhouse China and claim the top spot.
- At 34, six-time Grand Slam winner Sania Mirza is chasing yet another dream – to win an Olympic medal. Sania, who had paired up with Rohan Bopanna in the mixed doubles event of the Rio Olympics, had missed the medal by a whisker in the bronze match play-off. This time she will aim to settle down the scores by winning the coveted metal with Ankita Raina in the women's doubles events.
- Bhavani Devi must be given due credit for all that she has done to represent India in Fencing at the Tokyo Olympics. We expect to see sparks from thsi young Indian, and who knows if she can pull off a stunner like Deepa Karmakar did in Rio 2016, it would be a moment of pride.
- This could be the last ever Olympic appearance for the senior players like Sania Mirza, Mary Kom, Sanjeev Rajput, Achanta Sharath Kamal.
- Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Achanta Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, and Sutirtha Mukherjee are the four Indian paddlers who will be in action at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. While winning a medal in singles in the sport at the Olympics seems next to impossible, the Mixed doubles pair of Achanta Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra might have a slight sniff on earning a podium finish. This is mainly because of the fact that there will only be sixteen mixed doubles teams in the fray at Tokyo. If luck plays its part and the World Number 5 Indians get a favourable draw in the first couple of rounds, the country's first Olympic medal in table tennis could well be a reality.
- With already 30 athletes named from Haryana to go into the Tokyo Olympics. The state is once again poised to send most number Olympians this year.
- India could have its best harvest in the mixed doubles events of the Tokyo Olympics with hopes of winning medals in shooting, table tennis, and archery.