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Tokyo 2020

A look at the biggest setbacks for India at Tokyo Olympics

Many top-notch Indian athletes failed to deliver the expected quality performance at the Tokyo Olympics

Vinesh Phogat

Vinesh Phogat (Source: Wrestling Federation of India)


Kalptaru Agarwal

Updated: 9 Aug 2021 6:50 AM GMT

Tokyo Olympics is drawing to a close as the Indian contingent finish their campaign with 1 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze medals which is the highest medal count for India at the Olympics. But with some inspiring performances, there were major setbacks from star athletes who failed to deliver at the world's largest sporting event.

World's leading data and technology company Gracenote predicted 19 medals for the Indian contingent in Tokyo with an 18th rank finish which wasn't the reality as we know. The reason for this is the underperformance by the world-class players who were predicted to win.

1. Manu Bhaker

The 19-year old star shooter Manu Bhaker was a sure shot prospect to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics for India. Ranked No.2 in the world in 10m air pistol individually prior to the Olympics, she was predicted to bag the gold medal along with Saurabh Chaudhary in the mixed 10m air pistol team event. But the young girl succumbed to pressure and failed to deliver.

Her desire to win a medal posed to be a barrier in her performance as she failed to qualify both her individual events (10m air pistol, 25m air pistol) with 12th and 15th position in the qualification stage.

Bhaker also faltered in the mixed event where the duo topped the qualification stage but due to a poor show by Manu in Qualification Stage 2 (the lowest amongst all shooters in the stage), they didn't move ahead. This became a major setback for all Indian fans as the medal hope did not qualify for any of her 3 events in Tokyo.

2. Amit Panghal

The reigning Asian Games champion and the world championship silver medallist who was top-seeded in his category of boxing, Amit Panghal lost his first Round in Tokyo (Round of 16) against Columbia's Martinez which came as a shocker for all the Indians.

The gold medal prospect had a brilliant start but what followed in the next two halves was unimaginable and heartbreaking. Losing by 4-1, Amit did not perform what was expected out of the champion boxer from India.

3. Vikas Krishan Yadav

Vikas Krishan Yadav, a three-time Olympian and the reigning Commonwealth gold medallist was determined to finish on the Olympic podium prior to the Summer Games. His confidence was such that people believed in him and his past performances predicting him to be the strongest medal contender in boxing.

One of the biggest setbacks in Tokyo was when he lost his first-round by a 5-0 margin, a humiliating defeat. Though, he was said to be suffering from a shoulder injury, a first-round exit was not expected from him.

4. Apurvi Chandela & Elavenil Valarivan

Elavenil Valarivan (World No. 1 in Tokyo) and the word record holder Apurvi Chandela were the prime contenders for a medal owing to their recent performances but as the shooting contingent has let down all Indian hopes in Tokyo, both these shooters also failed to deliver.

In the Air Rifle event, Elavenil finished 16th while Chandela got the 36th spot with a score of 626.5 and 621.9 respectively. The young Valarivan was playing her first Olympics and had set high expectations but her failure to qualify in both single and team event posed a major setback for all the fans.

5. Vinesh Phogat

One of the most decorated wrestlers in the year 2021, Vinesh Phogat was thought to be the gold medallist in her weight category at the Tokyo Olympics in wrestling. With 4 gold medals in 4 events before coming to represent India in Tokyo, Phogat was a strong medal prospect.

Vinesh had come from an injury and overcame the horrors of the 2016 Rio Olympics, but her loss to Kaladzinskaya of Belarus by 0-5 in the quarterfinals broke the hearts of every Indian spectator.

6. Angad Bajwa

The Indian shooter in the skeet discipline with a world record of 60 out of 60 (final round) failed to replicate his charm at the Tokyo Olympics. With an 18th rank finish and 120 points on the score table, he did not qualify for the finals.

Bajwa was looking good at a certain stage but the last few misses dropped him out of the qualifying contentions, leaving behind a chance to win an Olympics medal. The curse of the world record holders continued for India with his show in Tokyo.

7. Divyansh Singh Panwar

The world no. 3 but rank 32nd in the qualification round of 10m air rifle individual event with a score of 622.8 has been the story of the young Divyansh.

Though this growing talent is now projected to perform well at the next Summer Games, his performance in Tokyo was not up to the mark. The 18-year old was not able to justify his calibre and the pressure of the Olympics got to him eventually.

8. Rahi Sarnobat

The reigning gold medallist from the Asian Games and double gold medallist in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Rahi Sanobat was thought to finish on the Olympic podium or at least reach the final stages but a low 32nd rank with a score of 573 in 25m women's pistol did not help her out. Another setback in shooting for India and another failed performance.

9. B. Sai Praneeth

Though not a prime medal contender, Sai Praneeth (13th seed in Tokyo) was predicted to at least qualify the group stage due to easy competitors, much lower-ranked Misha Zilberman and Mark Caljouw. But surprisingly, he finished at the bottom of the group losing both to Zilberman and Caljouw, a shocking result for all the badminton fans.

This was a major setback for the Indian contingent. While his compatriots PV Sindhu won the bronze and the men's duo gave a sensational performance, Praneeth's show was a letdown.

10. Yashaswini Deswal

Ranked No. 1 in 10m Air Pistol Women, Deswal was thought to shoot her best at the Olympics to get home a medal, but she failed with a 13th rank position to qualify.

Her score of 574 was one short of Manu and not enough to shoot for the Olympic glory. Contributing to the terrible show by Indian shooters in Tokyo, Yashaswini also faltered at the big stage. She also did not make it to the team event with Abhishek Verma.

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