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 5: 28 July 2020
Today would have been the fifth day at the Olympics, where no medal-winning matches were scheduled, yet Indians could have some crucial ties had they qualified.
India’s table tennis aspirations for the 2020 Olympics suffered a setback after both their men’s and women’s teams failed to secure qualification for the Tokyo Games last week. Sathiyan Gnanasekaran was beaten in both his singles matches in the 2020 ITTF World Team Qualification tournament in Gondomar at Portugal on Saturday as the Indian men’s team bowed out of the event after losing to lower-ranked Czech Republic. Both Sathiyan and Sharath Kamal, India’s big hopes, lost to the same player i.e world no 40 Darko Jorkic. The star of the women’s team, Manika Batra also could not fire India to victory in their crucial tie against France. With just two singles entries allowed from each country, India can still harbour qualification hopes in the singles and mixed doubles events when they participate in the next qualification event before the Tokyo Olympics.
While qualification for the team event would have guaranteed a couple of slots in the singles event in Tokyo, the failure to do so means that Sathiyan Gnanasekaran, Manika Batra and Achanta Sharath Kamal must free up the rest of their personal calendars and move their focus to the singles event berths that are still up for grabs. If they had qualified, they could have played the Quarterfinals today.
India already has four archery representatives who have already earned a quota place for the Games. With Deepika Kumari being the only female archer of the group.
Day 5 of the Olympics had men’s and women’s individual RD 64/32 events in the roster. This would have included Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das and Pravin Jadhav among the men. Atanu Das was among the trio of the Indian men’s archery team who sealed their berth at Tokyo 2020 after an enthralling performance at the Archery World Championships 2019 in June where they lost in the final. Atanu won the bronze medal in the men’s recurve individual event of the Asian Archery Championships 2019 after winning a bronze medal with Dipika in the mixed events. Twenty-three-year-old Pravin Jadhav was the least experienced member of the Indian team that had two Olympians performed extremely well in the Netherlands and matched his teammates, far more experienced than him. He didn’t let the occasion get to him and helped India claim an improbable silver. These are the raring years of Jadhav.
In the women’s draw, Dipika Kumari (Qualified) would have fielded alongside Bombayala Devi and Komalika Bari (both yet to qualify). Bombayala Devi is a veteran of three Olympic Games and a winner of 13 Archery World Cup medals. She, however, is still chasing an Olympic podium finish. She made her debut at the Olympics in Beijing 2008, where the Indian team was beaten in the quarterfinals by China. In the London Olympics of 2012, she was ousted in the second round of the women’s recurve event and was part of the Indian team that suffered a shock first-round exit at the hands of the Danish team. She fared significantly better in the women’s individual recurve event at Rio 2016, winning her first and second-round matches before bowing out in the round of 16. Komalika Bari, 17, etched her name in history books last year as she became just the third Indian to win the gold medal at the World Archery Youth Championships. Komalika, who was 15th after the ranking round, got a bye and beat five opponents — including two Koreans and a Japanese — to bag the title in the recurve cadet event at the championships in Madrid. With form by her side, it would still be difficult for her to perform under pressure at a grand event like the Olympics.
Today would have been the women’s double quarterfinals event at the Olympics. This could have been a day, we could have seen Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina in action. Both were yet to qualify for the games before the lockdown was imposed. However, there were good chances for them. Sania made an incredible comeback after a maternity break. Mirza won the Hobart International title which was also her first tournament since her return to professional tennis. WTA gives a special ranking to athletes returning from a maternity break puts Sania Mirza into world number 9 currently. With this, she should already have qualified in the Women’s doubles event for the games and would have an option to choose a partner. If she does wish to play at the Tokyo Olympics, the Indian tennis star will likely partner Ankita Raina, whose current doubles rank of 122, combined with Sania Mirza’s protected ranking, should be good enough to play at the marquee event.
Other events on day 5 and possible contenders:
Women pool A: India vs Great Britain
Men Singles Group play: Sai praneeth
Women Singles Group play: PV Sindhu
Women’s Light (57-60kg) RD 32: Simranjit kaur
Women’s Middle (69-75) RD 16: Pooja Rani
Men’s Fly (48-52kg) RD 32: Amit Panghal