Four months after the International Olympic Committee and officials in Japan postponed the Games amid soaring coronavirus infection rates and lockdowns across the world, uncertainty prevails. The unpredictable nature of the virus is making it impossible for officials to say definitively that the Games will happen or, if they do, what they might look like. Though we are missing the fervour of the quadrennial event, we are soaked in the Olympic spirit. For the next two weeks, we will be writing a series of article with the title “What if Olympic Happened”, where we will hypothetically discuss the day-wise performances of the Indian athletes, which were actually scheduled in the Olympics 2020 roster.
Day 14: 6 August 2020
Today would have been the fourteenth day at the Olympics and India could have been a part of eight title matches.
Athletics is, without doubt, one of the most significant events of the Olympics. On Day 14 of the games, te medal matches which were supposed to be held included:
Women’s 20km Race Walk Final – Bhawna Jat
Women’s Javelin Throw Final – Annu Rani
Men’s 5000m Final – Murali Kumar Gavit
Women’s 400m Final – Hima Das
Women’s 1500m Final – PU Chitra
It might be wrong to pick PU Chitra as the better medal prospect at the Olympics compared to Hima Das or Annu Rani, who is India’s only hope in women’s 1500m final. Though Chitra is the current Asian Champion in 1500m, her personal best is not enough for her to get an Olympic qualification entry mark (rankings could help), but she is a long way from medal hope.
Annu Rani who had a decent 2019 year, turned out to be a real deal for Olympics. Annu Rani is currently 12th in the world ranking. She won a silver medal in Asian Championships and finished 8th in World Athletics Championships last year. Annu is the current national record holder with 62.43 marks, she needed 64 for direct entry to Olympics and 65 for a medal. With steady progress, if she can deliver a 64+, she could win that medal. But as far as now, finishing in top-10 looks realistic for her.
Bhawana won the national race walking championships in Ranchi this year, becoming the first Indian woman to achieve Olympic qualification in the 20km event. She won gold at 1:29.54 secs, breaking the national mark by almost two seconds. Fun fact: World Athletics Championship gold medal-winning timing of 2019 was 1:32:53 – It should be the slowest for sure considering the heat but anyway this stats give you some perspective that Bhawana is without a doubt a world-class athlete. With not hearing so much about her past performances, she can be a surprise package in the Tokyo Olympics. Indians long-distance runners always did better in Olympics before comparing to other track athletes, so Bhawana will surely take that to her positive side.
Hima Das is India’s new poster girl of track events. The transition of junior to senior is what going to be key for Hima here. Winning the 2018 IAAF Junior world championship title have put Hima in a world-class bracket but can she maintain that? Due to injuries, Hima didn’t take part most of 2019 – maybe this break can help her to return back to the shape. Hima has a PB of 50.79. Can Hima become first Indian athlete to run sub 50? It is very most possible but if at all she could go even beyond that – without a doubt, she will end up with few world titles and Olympic medal in her career.
Chances of winning medal: 45%
Nine Indian boxers have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, making this India’s biggest-ever boxing contingent at the quadrennial event. Day 13 of the Games, would have seen Men’s Heavy (81-91kg) Final and the only Indian contender for the event Naman Tanwar, who hasn’t qualified at the Olympics.
Chances of winning a medal – 10%
Along with shooting, wrestling has been one of India’s most productive sporting disciplines at the Olympics, accounting for as many as five medals. While India is yet to finalize its wrestling contingent for Tokyo, Indian fans can expect at least four contenders at next year’s Games. On day 14, the following bouts were lined up:
Women’s Freestyle 53 kg Final/bronze medal – Vinesh Phogat
Men’s Freestyle 125 kg Final/bronze medal – Sumit
Men’s Freestyle 74 kg Final/Bronze medal – Jitender/Sushil
In 74kg category, the debate on who will represent India is yet to be settled, the same story as in 2016. There has been always conflict between Sushil Kumar and Jitender. Depite of having bleak chances, you cannot rule out two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar from the contention. However, expecting a medal in that category would be too much of an ask.
There will be some spotlight on Sumit who is going to represent India in 125kg men’s freestyle wrestling. Sumit is a very hardworking wrestler – his bronze in Asian Championships 2019 is a proof. The cynosure of all eyes on Day 14 will be Vinesh Phogat. Vinesh went into Rio as one of the medal favourites after her impressive qualification. Vinesh started Rio campaign with a dominating 11-0 win and was eliminated in QF after a serious injury. With already qualified for Tokyo, this time Vinesh will participate in 53kg. Vinesh and Bajrang are two medal prospects for India in Olympics. Though Vinesh hasn’t been a dominating self in 53kg as she was in 48kg, she is still capable to win a medal for sure.
Chances of winning a medal – 75%
Day 14 of the Olympics will have the women’s hockey deciding matches on the wire. Rani Rampal led Indian women’s hockey team will clearly go into the tournament as favourites. India is ranked 9th in the world and will see some serious threats in the group stage games against the top teams of the world. However, on a given day they can pull off big upsets. The team playing as an unit, based on heavy experience can make big strides at the tournament and have the firepower to reach the semi-finals.