The place where legends are created, stars become superstars, records are broken, dreams are shattered and the world takes notice of the underdogs. India, over he years perhaps have not put up show that corresponds to the potential that 125 crore people possess. But, improvements have been made in the recent Olympics. India doubled its medals tally from 2008 at the 2012 edition. India’s hope at the 2016 summer Olympics heavily banks on their shuttlers, shooters and grapplers.
India is sending its largest ever Badminton contingent with 7 shuttlers. Former world no.1 Saina Nehwal and young P.V. Sindhu who is in a red hot form are India’s biggest hope for the yellow metal. Commonwealth gold medal winning pair of Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta are always medal contenders on a sunny day. Kidambi Srikanth who won the China open defeating the legend Lin Dan is India’s medal hope in the men’s event and much will be expected of him considering his recent form.
Indians always expect medals from their shooters ever since Rajvardhan Singh Rathode won the Silver medal in 2004. India has a cumulative haul of 1 Gold and 2 Bronze medals in the previous 2 editions. This time too the expectations are sky high. 28 year old army shooter Jitu Rai has been in an incredible run of form leading up to the Olympics having qualified for the finals of the ISSF world cup for 5 consecutive times. He has also reached the podium on a number of times with his pistol. His pet event is the 50m pistol. He also competes in the 10m air pistol event. Heena Sidhu won a gold in the 2013 ISSF World Cup and has a Commonwealth title to her name. She will take part in the 10m air pistol event at the Olympics. Seasoned campaigners Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang are also in fray with the rifles. Mairaj Ahmed Khan won a skeet silver at the World cup in Rio which was also a test event for the Olympics.
Despite the controversy revolving Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Yadav for the chance to take part in the 74kg category at the Olympics, Indians have a great chance to improve upon their 2012 show in wrestling. 2012 Bronze medalist. Yogeshwar Dutt has won gold in every event he has taken part in the 65kg Category. Indians have booked 8 quota places at the Olympics in all three events – Freestyle, Greco-Roman and female wrestling.
Former World No.1 Deepika Kumari will lead the India’s team at the recurve archery event. Bombayla Devi and Laxmirani Majhi are the other two members of the team. The players underwent three and a half months of rigorous training and trials before the Archery association selected the team. They will take part in the individual as well as the team event. The men have booked one individual quota place and are vying for more at the Archery World cup later this year.
Both the Men’s and women’s hockey teams have made the cut for the Olympics. The Men’s team led by Sardar Singh have done well after their disappointing show in London 4 years back. If things go well, they can come back with a medal. The eves hope for a medal is a long shot given that their recent form is poor. They were given a 7-0 whitewash during their Great Britain tour earlier this year.
In total more than 80 members have qualified for the Olympics including the hockey teams. Many more are giving their best and trying to qualify for Olympics with last ditch efforts. India is hopeful of improving its medals tally from the previous editions. For that, it would require the Olympians to step up to the task at hand and grab the opportunity with all they have got.