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Tokyo 2020

Better or Worse than expectations: How did India perform in each sport at Tokyo Olympics?

Here, we look at whether the Indian athletes performed as per the expectations or not in every sport they competed in.

Indian athletes clicking selfies during Tokyo Olympics closing ceremony.

Indian athletes at the Closing ceremony


Abhijit Nair

Updated: 10 Aug 2021 6:53 AM GMT

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has undoubtedly been India's best-ever show at the Olympic Games in terms of medals won. The country finished 48th in the standings with a total of 7 medals, including a historic gold medal from Neeraj Chopra in javelin throw.

But it was not all rosy for India until the penultimate day of the Tokyo Games. There were a lot of heartbreaks, with some of the biggest medal hopes of the country falling victim to the Olympic pressure.

Here, we look at whether the Indian athletes performed as per the expectations or not in every sport they competed in.


Verdict: Better than expectations

The Indian athletics contingent put up a stellar show at the Tokyo Olympics. Putting Neeraj Chopra's gold medal aside, the country found stars in the form of Kamalpreet Kaur, who made her way into the final of Women's Discus Throw, Avinash Sable and Men's 4x400m relay team, both of whom were highly unlucky to miss out on qualifying for the final.


Verdict: Worse than expectations

There were a lot of hopes pinned on the Indian archers, especially world number 1 Deepika Kumari, going into the Tokyo Olympics. Even though they quite certainly were unlucky to be up against the South Koreans multiple times, a better show in the ranking rounds and they could have avoided that.


Verdict: As per the expectations

The only expected medal hope for India in badminton after the groups were released was PV Sindhu in women's singles, and she did deliver a bronze. While the men's doubles duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty put up a brave performance, the men's singles star Sai Praneeth lost to a lower-ranked opponent to have his chances of making it into the knockouts crushed.


Verdict: Worse than expectations

A medal from Lovlina Borgohain notwithstanding, a lot more was expected of the nine Indian boxers who qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. While the women pugilists did give a decent account of themselves, the men were shambolic with world number 1 Amit Panghal and experienced Vikas Krishan failing to impress.


Verdict: Worse than expectations

While the men's singles star in tennis, Sumit Nagal, after qualifying for the event at the dying moments, put up a great display against world number 2 Daniil Medvedev in the second round, the women's doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina suffered a shock first-round exit.

Table Tennis

Verdict: Better than expectations

India's table tennis campaign in Tokyo had the worst possible start with the country's brightest prospects - the mixed doubles duo of Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra exited in the very first round. But, this was then followed by some amazing ping-pong by the Indians in the singles section, with Sutirtha Mukherjee notching up a surprise win and Manika Batra and Sharath Kamal becoming the first-ever Indians to reach the third round in Olympics history.


Verdict: Better than expectations

The men's lightweight doubles sculls pair of Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh put up a sensational show and became the first rowers from the country to qualify for the semifinal in the Olympics. They eventually finished 11th, in what was India's best-ever show in the sport at the Olympics.


Verdict: Better than expectations

The Indian sailors performed better than expectations in Tokyo. While Vishnu Sarvanan finished 20th overall, Nethra Kumanan took the 35th position, and the men's 49er pair of KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar ended 17th to round off a decent showing for India in the sport.


Verdict: Better than expectations

India's fencing debut at the Olympics was quite certainly way better than fans had expected. Bhavani Devi registered a fantastic win in her first round before losing to world number 3 from France in the second, but not without putting up a great fight.


Verdict: Better than expectations

India had a sensational run in golf and was even in medal contention in women's strokeplay, thanks to Aditi Ashok. The 23-year-old gave it her all before but missed out on a medal by a whisker, finishing 4th.


Verdict: Worse than expectations

Yes, India did win two medals in wrestling. But, did they not have a better chance in the sport? While the performances of Ravi Kumar Dahiya and Bajrang Punia were exceptional, Deepak Punia's loss in the bronze medal match and Vinesh Phogat being knocked out in the quarterfinal by a much lower-ranked opponent was certainly a big opportunity missed.


Verdict: As per the expectations

Going into the Olympics, everyone from the fans to experts had predicted India's sole representation in weightlifting, Mirabai Chanu, to return with a silver medal. The 26-year-old from Manipur did exactly that, finishing second on the podium behind China's Hou Zhihui.


Verdict: Worse than expectations

Shooting was a sport every Indian had a lot of expectations from, considering their performances since the past few years. However, the shooters failed badly, with only Saurabh Chaudhary out of the 15 Indian shooters in Tokyo even qualifying for the final.


Verdict: Better than expectations

The performance of the men's and women's hockey teams at the Tokyo Olympics was a revelation for India. While the men's team ended their medal drought in the sport, winning the bronze medal, the women qualified to the semifinal for the first time in the country's Olympic history.


Verdict: As per the expectations

A total of three Indian swimmers qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. While Srihari Natraj and Sajan Prakash made it by achieving the 'A' qualification mark, Maana Patel made it through the universality quota. Though all three of them failed to go past the heats but provided a good account of themselves in Tokyo.


Verdict: Better than expectations

The first Indian equestrian to qualify for the Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games, Fouaad Mirza, gave a good account of himself by qualifying for the final and finishing 23rd overall.


Verdict: As per the expectations

India's sole representation in Judo, Sushila Devi, was knocked out of the Olympics after losing her very first bout. Considering the level of judokas in India, this was not completely unexpected.

Artistic Gymnastics

Verdict: Worse than expectations

After the high of 2016 Rio in gymnastics, wherein Dipa Karmakar finished fourth to miss out on a medal, a similar kind of performance was expected from Pranati Nayak this time around. But, it did not really pan out the way one would have liked, as Pranati Nayak did not perform her second vault due to lack of confidence.

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