Sport holds a huge significance in a country's progress, as it has the power to change lives. By encouraging women to take up various sports, the Summer Olympics have benefited from seeing more gender diversity. One such country which has benefited the most from the increased number of female athletes in India.
During the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, India fielded just 19 female athletes, just under 30% of the total contingent. The number of female athletes had consistently gone up till the 2012 London Olympics, before taking a huge leap at the Rio Olympics.
At the Summer Games 2016, India fielded 54 female athletes, which was its highest representation. In a historic moment for the country, India will now field 56 female athletes at Tokyo Olympics, making it the largest Indian female contingent at the Summer Games. This shows that the country is making true progress towards attaining gender diversity in the field of sports.
At the Rio Olympics 2016, India could only manage to win two medals, both of which were won by female athletes. PV Sindhu bagged a silver medal in Badminton, whereas Sakshi Malik returned home with a bronze medal in Wrestling.
From starting with 0 female athletes at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, India has made huge progress in the sporting field. It is only a matter of time before India establishes itself as a sporting powerhouse.
'Women power' at Tokyo Olympics 2020
Female Representation at Olympics (Sport-Wise)
Table Tennis- 2
India's biggest medal hopes at Tokyo Olympics (Female)
Deepika Kumari- Archery
Deepika Kumari is one of the top contenders to win a medal for India at the Tokyo Olympics. The Indian archer has often failed at big events, as she tends to crumble under pressure. However, Deepika Kumari has improved tremendously in the past few years and holds the world's number one ranking in Women's Recurve Archery. She also bagged a Triple gold medal at the recently concluded World Cup in Paris.
PV Sindhu- Badminton
PV Sindhu bagged a silver medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The Indian shuttler enters the Olympics as one of the top favorites. She has achieved a tremendous amount of success in the sport, having won 5 World Championship medals. She finally won a Final in 2019 after claiming the World Championship title.
Mary Kom- Boxing
Mary Kom will potentially compete at her last Olympic Games, and it is her final chance to claim the much-awaited gold medal. Mary Kom made the nation proud in 2012 when she claimed the bronze medal at London Olympics. Much is expected from the 38-year-old Indian boxer this time around.
A strong Shooting Contingent
India fields a strong shooting contingent at the Tokyo Olympics, where the female athletes are expected to return home with a couple of medals. Rahi Sarnobat bagged won a gold medal in the Women's 25 m pistol event at the World Cup last month. Currently the world number one in the Women's Air 10 m Air Rifle category, Elavenil Valarivan is also expected to win a medal in Tokyo.
Chanu Saikhom Mirabai- Weightlifting
Chanu Saikhom Mirabai is another medal hopeful at Tokyo Olympics, as the Indian weightlifter is ranked second in the 49kg category. She shattered the clean and jerk world record in April this year, as she set a new benchmark at 119kg.
Vinesh Phogat- Wrestling
Vinesh Phogat claimed a gold medal in the Asian Championships held this year and has the ability to repeat the same heroics in Tokyo. The Indian wrestler is a two-time Commonwealth Games gold medalist, and her experience will certainly impact the Summer Games.
Female Athletes increasing the country's participation at Tokyo Olympics.
There are a few sports where only female athletes will mark their representation. The sports include the likes of Gymnastics, Fencing, Judo, and Weightlifting.
Mirabai Chanu will be India's sole representation at Weightlifting during the Summer Olympic Games. Nethra Kumanan scripted history as she became the first Indian female sailor at the Olympic Games. The Indian sailor won a World Cup Medal in Sailing, and she secured a spot for Tokyo through Asia Olympic Qualifying event.
Bhavani Devi became the first Indian athlete to ever qualify for Fencing at the Summer Olympic Games. The 27-year-old will compete in the saber event, having previously won two Asian Championships medals. She is ranked 42nd globally, and it is a proud moment for the country to have representation in a sport not well-known in India.
Pranati Nayak has followed the footsteps of Dipa Karmakar as she represents India in Gymnastics. She is the sole Indian gymnast at Tokyo Olympics, as she competes in the women's artistic event. The 26-year-old bagged a bronze medal at the Asian Championships in 2019, and she qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after the cancellation of the 2021 Asian Championships.
Sushila Devi will be India's lone participant in Judo at Tokyo Olympics. She qualified for the Olympics after earning a continental quota. She participates in the 48kg category and has a world ranking of 46. Her major achievements include a silver medal at Commonwealth Games 2014 and two Asian Open Championships.