Tokyo Olympics: Why Saturday, July 24 could be one of the greatest days for Indian sports?
This Saturday, July 24, India could be taking part in a total of six medal events at the Tokyo Olympics. With several medal hopes in action, this could be one of India's best sporting days.
The stage is set for the world's biggest sporting event to be underway on Friday. A year after getting postponed due to the coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympics is finally upon us!
Apart from its cricketing fortunes, India is largely regarded as a country starved of sporting success. It's a given fact that India's greatest moments in sports have arrived through primarily ICC World Cups triumphs in the last few decades, as we're well past our golden day in hockey, a sport that has yielded eight Olympics gold.
This Olympics, however, paints a different picture for India that boasts of several fine individuals and teams who are being deemed as medal contenders. On Saturday, day 2 of the Games, India would be taking part in whopping 14 events at the Tokyo Olympics. However, the one possibility to look at is that it could be the most rewarding day for the country in the Games' history with a distant prospect of six medals. This brings into consideration Saturday could be the greatest day in India's sporting history. Let's take a look:
The proceedings at the Olympics on Day 2 will begin with Indian shooters in action.
Women's 10 m Air Rifle
Apurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan would be the two Indian contenders vying for a medal in the 10m Air Rifle event. They are on the threshold to create history as India's first-ever female shooter to win an Olympic medal if they could pull off their best show in the shooting range.
Chandela made a strong comeback in 2019 won five consecutive medals at the ISSF World Cups. She clinched the Olympic berth for Tokyo Olympics 2021 and made it to the team. However, the start of 2021, was not great for the Jaipur shooter. During the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, she couldn't advance for the finals. Then again, in the ISSF World Cup in Croatia, Chandela did better than the other Tokyo-bound 10m rifle shooters, Anjum Moudgil, and world top Elavenil Valarivan.
There has been a bit of progress in her performance, keeping the 10m shooter in the contention for the Olympic medal. If Chandela can reach her peak performance like in 2015 and 2019, she can reach the podium.
Elavenil, currently the World No.1 in the Women's 10m air rifle category, will also be hoping to prove her potential by winning a medal in the upcoming Tokyo Games. Showing that she is on par with the older experienced shooters in this country, Valarivan won two Shooting World Cup gold medals. The first one came in 2019, when she won the final at Putian, China. She also put in a talismanic display at the Delhi World Cup in 2021, with a gold medal in her event. A representative from Gujarat, Elavenil, would be one of the dark horses to watch on Saturday, who could bring home a medal.
Qualification: 5:00 AM IST
Final: 7:15 AM IST
Men's 10m Air Pistol
Soon after the women's event in shooting will be over, the men's 10m air pistol event would be underway, where the medal decider match would be on the wire. Saurabh Chaudhuri, one of the hot favourites to win a medal this Olympics, will be showcasing his shooting prowess along with fellow compatriot Abhishek Verma.
Chaudhuri though has won several gold medals in the ISSF World Cups, the competition level is going to be far more intense than the World Cups in Tokyo. Saurabh will face stiff competition against South Korea's Jin Jong-Oh and Iran's Javad Foroughi in the category.
In shooting more than medal count the scores are crucial to make an analysis. Jin Jong-Oh has a World record of 594/600 in the 10m air pistol event. Interestingly, Saurabh Chaudhary has been shooting around 589. If Chaudhary can level up a bit more, he can surpass the record in Tokyo. Besides, Foroughi has been shining at the 2021 World Cups. He has now defeated Saurabh twice to claim the gold. Thus, expecting a gold would be a tough ask for Saurabh. His ability to stay calm in pressure situations, however, has yielded good results.
Abhishek Verma will also be one of India's medal hopeful in the upcoming Tokyo Games. The world number one in the 10m air pistol event, who has won medals at the Asian Games and ISSF World Cup, will surely look to add another accolade to his already decorated resume. It didn't take long for Verma to seal the tickets to Tokyo. In his second ISSF World Cup in Beijing in 2019, the hobby shooter-turned professional secured a gold medal in the 10m air pistol event, which helped him seal a quota for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Qualification: 9:30 AM IST
Final: 12:00 PM IST
Soon after the proceedings in the shooting ends, India's sole representative in weightlifting, Mirabai Chanu, would be coming up on the dais to compete in the 49kg category. The Manipuri is poised to be the second-best weightlifter in her category. Her personal best performance is 203 kg with which she won the 49kg gold in the National Weightlifting Championships in February 2020. Mirabai has put forward an entry of 210kg for Saturday's competition. China will field Zhihui Hou at the Olympics, whose best performances have been recorded as 211 kg. 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.
Event time: 10:20 AM IST
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, which will be underway on Saturday. They are now doubling up as "coach-mentor" as they chase India's elusive dream of winning the first-ever Olympic medal in archery.
Qualification: 6:00 AM IST
Medal matches: 10:45 AM IST
Don't forget to turn on your television screens and root for these superstars who could create history on July 24!