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Tokyo 2020

With Euro, Copa and Wimbledon over, it's time to cheer for India at the Tokyo Olympics

The Olympics, the biggest sporting event in the world, is just 11 days away. Can we expect the same fan fervour for India at Tokyo?

With Euro, Copa and Wimbledon over, its time to cheer for India at the Tokyo Olympics

Md Imtiaz

Updated: 13 July 2021 1:37 PM GMT

It's been a long month for Indian fans who could revel in the spectacular world-class sporting events that happened around the world. The biggest takeaway would be how sports brought respite to us amid the gripping narrative of the coronavirus, which led to lockdowns in almost every part of the country.

Starting with the first-ever World Test Championships final, the calendar concluded with a breathtaking Euro 2020 final last night. The WTC Final was an anti-climactic end for the Indian cricket team, who have had a brilliant journey in the test format of cricket in the last couple of years. It was followed by the French Open, where Novak Djokovic won his second Roland Garros title and 19th Grand Slam. The 34-year-old became the first man in the Open Era to win each of the four Majors twice. Only Roy Emerson and Rod Laver have done it before. Neither Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, nor Rafael Nadal could do it (five women have achieved it as well).

On Sunday, the Serbian beat Matteo Berrettini in the Wimbledon final to win his 20th career grand slam title, which puts him level with his long-time rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the list of all-time highest slam winners in men's tennis.
The beautiful game of football further added to fans' jubilation, when the G.O.A.T Lionel Messi undid the ghosts of all the lost finals and won Argentina its first major international trophy in the last 28 years 1993. Messi and his team in blue-and-white beat Brazil 1-0 at their home to win the Copa Americas, a dream that millions of Messi fans in India had weaved. The final whistle of the sporting fervour was drawn in the wee hours of Monday, when Italy lifted the Euro 2020 after a nail-biting clash against England that saw the game going into the penalty shoot-out.

All eyes of the world would now be glued to the prefectures of Tokyo. The Olympics, the biggest sporting event in the world, is finally on schedule after getting postponed for a year due to the pandemic. However, the best news is India will be sending a 120+ member biggest contingent ever to Tokyo with expectations to win medals in double digits for the first time in history. With just 11 days to go for the quadrennial Games, can we expect the fervour for India this time? A humble pledge to all to watched endless nights of football, tennis, and cricket in the past one month. Can we all stand by our Olympians who are looking to make new waves of sporting success in India?
The London 2012 Olympics has been India's best show in the Games, when the heroics of the legendary MC Mary Kom and Sushil Kumar helped the country bag a total of six medals. The Tokyo Olympics will mark India's centenary year of participating in the event.

With 28 medals so far, the country has not had striking success in Olympic sports, but if we tell you that it will change this year? One of the world's leading entertainment and sports data companies, Gracenote, has projected India to have a bumper harvest in Tokyo with as many as 17 medals. If that happens, there shouldn't be anything more delightful for an Indian fan who simply basks on the glory of its cricketing success.

Gun for glory

Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhury

The Olympics is scheduled between July 23 and August 8. India is expected to have a cheerful start at the Games when the shooting final takes centre stage on day 2, where a young Elavenil Valraivan will be competing for silverware in the women's 10m Air Rifle event. She will also be joined by two of the country's biggest medal prospects Saurabh Chaudhury and Abhishek Verma, in the 10m Air Rifle event.

Manu Bhaker will also be joining the procession when she comes up to the range to shoot in three categories. At just 20, Bhaker could be India's greatest Olympian ever who has her eyes set on three medals in Tokyo. Shooting has emerged as India's strongest suit at the Olympics, with India sending a record 15 shooters to Tokyo. Youngsters like Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Divyansh Singh Panwar, Rahi Sarnobat also adds up to the firepower of this team. The introduction of mixed team events in 10m Rifle and Pistol will be an added advantage for India.

The magical Mirabai

Mirabai Chanu

The pocket-size dynamite weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who had set the world record in clean and jerk in April with a lift of 119 kg to win the bronze at Asian Weightlifting Championships, is another high medal probability in Tokyo. Standing tall in the 49kg category, Chanu would be behind China's Hou Zhihui, who is the favourite in this event. Owing to the withdrawal of North Korean team from the Olympics, it is highly possible for the Indian to seek redemption of what happened in Rio 2016 and bring a medal home.

Mary's swansong

MC Mary Kom

India will also be sending one of the strongest teams in boxing to Tokyo, where boxers like Amit Panghal have huge hopes of winning silverware. He is ranked number one in men's 52 kg in the latest AIBA world rankings. It will be further exciting to watch six-time World Champion Mary Kom punch above her weight and go for her second Olympics medal at her swansong. Out of the nine boxers India will be sending at the Games, eight are ranked inside the World no. 10 of their respective categories.

Vinesh Phogat's redemption

Vinesh Phogat

Wrestling has been the only Indian sport that have consistently fetched us medals in the last four Olympics. A team of seven wrestlers heading for Tokyo, will also have huge hopes pitted over them. The biggest contender would be Vinesh Phogat, who also be seeking redemption for her missed chance in Rio 2016, where an injury had made a roadblock. Vinesh looks forward to capitalise on her dream form with which she has won all the four championships she played in 2021. She was the top-ranked wrestler in the 53kg category. Bajrang Punia and Deepak Punia, are second seeds in their respective 65 kg and 86 kg classes. Ravi Kumar Dahiya is the fourth seed in 57 kg. All four will be serious medal contenders, while it would be a major upset if Phogat and Bajrang Punia fail to win medals.

Sindhu aims higher

PV Sindhu

India's ace shuttler PV Sindhu will also have a shot at being the G.O.A.T of Indian sports if she is able to win her second Olympic medal in Tokyo. Buoyed by her success of winning at a gold medal in the 2019 World Championships, Sindhu will be a hot favourite to win the medal. With Carolina Marin being out of contention for the Games, Sindhu still would face a tough competition against the likes of Tai Tzu-ying, Nozomi Okuhara, Chen Yu Fei. Akane Yamaguchi. The men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty could also emerge as the dark horses in the competition.

Bringing the glory back

The Indian men's hockey team is ranked fourth globally and has shown promise in the last couple of years in their run-up to the Tokyo Olympics. The resurgence of the hockey team started probably after the conclusion of the Hockey World Cup on home soil in 2018. Undoubtedly, the Indian team has gained a renewed vigour since the arrival of coach Graham Reid, the craftsman who is now entrusted to take the team to new heights. If someone makes a report card for Reid, he has passed with flying colours. If you go by the numbers, since Reid's appointment, India has played 37 international matches, where they have won 27, lost five, and drew five matches so far. Despite a season marred by the coronavirus, the team has shown immense resilience playing with the other top teams in the world. Four decades have passed since India brought its last Olympic medal home — a gold at the 1980 Games in Moscow. Could this be the year that ends the men in blues' 41-year old drought?

This one for Milkha Singh

Milkha Singh

The greatest name among Indian athletics, Milkha Singh, passed away last month with an unfulfilled dream of seeing India winning an Olympic medal in athletics. The time has come for India to break the jinx as ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra stands tall as an outside medal prospect in Tokyo. All eyes will be set on Chopra, who will be trying to improve on his best throw of 88.07m and hit the 90m mark that will certainly guarantee him a medal. Apart from Chopra, long jumper Murali Sreeshankar, Shot putter Tajinderpal Singh Toor, discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur are expected to put up a fiery show in Tokyo.

As we take a pause from a whirlwind of sporting events clutched together, let's take our time out and know about the Indian athletes and root for them who could be the heroes in the Tokyo Olympics.

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