Ranking all the sports according to India's medal chances at the Tokyo Olympics
India will have potential medal chances in nine sports at the Tokyo Olympics. Let us try to rank them according to the chances.
India will have a 127-member strong contingent at the Tokyo Olympics. This is India's highest-ever participation at the Games. Many have opined that the Tokyo Olympics would yield a rich harvest for India, where they could, for the first time, breach the double-digit medal mark.
India would be taking part in a total of 18 disciplines at the Tokyo Games. If we sit and analyse, we will find that India's medal chances would, however, be restricted to nine disciplines in particular. Let's look at all the nine disciplines and rank them according to their medal chances:
9. Table Tennis
India has a probable chance of winning a medal in the mixed doubles event of table tennis spearheaded by 2018 Asian Games bronze medallist duo of Manika Batra and Achanta Sharath Kamal. Set to debut as an event for the first time at the Olympics, the mixed doubles will see close competition with country sending in only one pair each to the Games.
The duo of Manika Batra and Achanta Sharath Kamal has been displaying good form and at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers held at Doha in March, the Sharath-Manika combined to produce a gritty performance and defeated the No. 5 pair of Lee Sang-su and Jeon Ji-hee from Korea in the finals to secure the Mixed Finals berth at Tokyo.
India would still have a wild shot at winning a medal in badminton, with PV Sindhu aiming for her second medal at the Olympics. The Rio 2016 silver medallist, who also won the 2019 World Championships, will be eyeing the highest echelons of badminton once again. With the defending champion, Carolina Maria withdrawing from the Games, Sindhu would have an advantage in her pursuit of a medal.
She would still face stiff competition from the others like TAI Tzu Ying, Chen Yu Fei, Nozomi Okuhara, and Akane Yamaguchi. Besides, her recent form would still be a matter of concern.
Apart from Sindhu, the men's doubles Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty also have a wild chance of bagging silverware in Tokyo. The duo had a breakthrough season as they claimed their maiden Super 500 title at Thailand Open and finished runners-up at the French Open Super 750 to grab a career-best ranking of world number 7.
A total of 11 medals, including eight gold, two silver, and a bronze, sums up the sheer dominance India has enjoyed in hockey led by legends like Dhyan Chand, Balbir Singh Jr., and Udham Singh, among others. Four decades have passed since India brought its last Olympic medal home — a gold at the 1980 Games in Moscow.
This could be the year that ends the men in blues' 41-year old drought. 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 in home 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. Under him, 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.
India has never won an athletics medal at the Olympics, and expecting the country to win one this time around is surely a long shot. But, with the kind of form the Indian track and field athletes have shown in the past couple of months, it is hard to ignore the possibility of a first-ever medal in athletics for the country.
Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra set a new National record when he threw the javelin to a distance of 88.07m at the third leg of Indian Grand Prix held in Patiala last month. Chopra's 88.07m is by far the best ever javelin throw recorded by an Indian.
If Neeraj Chopra can continue his form and momentum and touch the 90m distance, he might well be the first person to win an athletics medal for India at the Olympics.
India last won a medal in boxing in the 2012 London Olympics when Mary Kom clinched a bronze four years after Vijender Singh finished third in the 2008 showpiece event. Kom would still be one of India's biggest medal hopes in boxing.
In May 2021, she finished her ASBC Asian Boxing Championships campaign with a silver medal after going down fighting against the two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay. It was the second silver for Mary Kom at the Asian Championships who has previously won titles on five occasions -- 2003, 2005, 2010, 2012, and 2017 besides silver in 2008.
In the men's category, Amit Panghal is India's biggest medal hope. He might have gone down fighting against the reigning Olympics champion Zoirov Shakhobidin in a hard-fought men's 52kg final at the 2021 ASBC Asian Boxing Championships, but the Indian boxer is raring to go in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
All hopes will be pitted on star archers and couple Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari, when they reach Tokyo Olympics. Deepika is going to the Olympics as a world no 1, similar to 2012 when she had climbed to the pole position ahead of the London Games. However, Deepika could not live up to the expectation, making a first-round exit.
Rio Games was no different as she made a last 16 exit in individual and lost to Russia in team quarterfinals. Deepika is in the peak form of her career, attaining the No 1 ranking after winning two individual World Cup gold medals this year.
Deepika and her husband Atanu Das are India''s best Olympic medal hope in the mixed pair competition. They are now doubling up as "coach-mentor" as they chase India's elusive dream of winning the first-ever Olympic medal in archery.
Wrestling has been one such sport for India that has fetched the country medals regularly since the 2008 Olympics. India will be sending a team of seven wrestlers to the Tokyo Olympics to continue the medal legacy at the Games.
Of the seven wrestlers, Vinesh Phogat, Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, and Ravi Kumar have been seeded in their respective categories for the Tokyo Olympics.Both Bajrang and Deepak have been seeded second in the 65kg and 86kg category, while Ravi has been seeded fourth in the 57kg. Star female wrestler Vinesh is the top seed in the 53kg category.
Out of the Indians who have qualified, the seasoned Bajrang and Vinesh have a good chance of winning a medal.
With North Korea withdrawing from the Olympics, it is likely to be a two-way race between Chanu and the lifter representing China in the 49kg category of the Tokyo Olympics. Mirabai will be the second-best weightlifter in the Games. Her personal best performance is 203 kg with which she won the 49kg gold in the National Weightlifting Championships in February 2020.
China will either be able to field Zhihui Hou or Huihua Ziang at the Olympics, whose best performances have been recorded as 211 kg and 212 kg, respectively. There are possibilities that other countries will be pulling out of the games.
Mirabai just has to ensure that she stays injury-free and retains her form to win a medal at the Tokyo Games and her chances of winning bronze further get lifted with real possibilities of winning silver.
The Tokyo Olympics 2021 will begin with shooting matches. The terrific 15-member Indian shooting could produce the best shooting performance ever in the Indian Olympics history. The expectations from the Indian shooting contingent are very high because of their medal-winning performances in the past. India is sending the world's 5 top shooters in the pistol team.
The nation has the most realistic chance of a medal in the pistol event. In the past world cups of 2019 and 2021, all five have almost advanced to the final events of tournaments. Notably, Manu Bhaker would compete in three events.
The 10m air pistol team are the strongest contenders for the medal. India is predicted to reach the podium finishes in the 10m air pistol mixed, 10m air pistol men's, and 25m pistol women's event. Whereas, five Indian shooters have the potential to reach the Olympic finals.