The much-awaited 2020 Olympics is finally here, slated to start from Friday, July 23. Despite all its troubles with the pandemic and a year-long delay, the best of the best from the sporting world have gathered in Tokyo to win elusive gold medals.
Expectations are high for the Indian contingent to better at least their last performance from the previous Games and of course, make the country proud.
Mentioned below are the top events in Tokyo where we can expect our athletes to outperform the field and bag some medals. While there are no online betting options for these events just yet, it’s still worth mentioning and getting out there to support team India!
A Quick PreludeShootingWrestlingBadmintonBoxingHonourable Mentions
A Quick Prelude
Before we get down to the main events, let’s take a quick look at how India’s contingent is positioned for the Games ahead:
At 120 potential medal candidates, India is sending its largest field of athletes to the Olympics
They will be competing across 18 different sports in more than 80 medal events
India is making its debut in fencing with Bhavani Devi becoming the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Games
In sailing and swimming, India will have three competitors each for the first time in the Summer Olympics
The equestrian sport will see its first Indian participant in 20 years with Fouaad Mirza
Apart from this, India is pinning its hopes on other sports like shooting, badminton, wrestling, among others.
There is some potential here to bring home more than two medals – better than the Rio Olympics – and possibly, go further to bring their best haul yet of more than six (2012 London Games).
Let’s take a look.
Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary are showing the way for the 15-member squad set to participate in the Olympics shooting events.
The two 19-year-olds will be competing in the 10m air pistol mixed discipline – a first in the Olympics – along with a few other individual events. The pairing has worked quite well in the past – they won successive gold medals in the 2019 ISSF World Cup and as recently as in 2021 in New Delhi.
Both Bhaker and Chaudhary have got some impressive pedigrees, having won the gold in the Youth Olympic Games in 2018 in the women and men’s fields. Chaudhary was also the top finisher in the 2018 Asian Games and World Junior Championships.
With this kind of form, skill, and experience, it is difficult to not imagine them at least reach secure a bronze if not the gold.
To ease some pressure off them, Abhishek Verma and Yashaswini Deswal will be also competing in 10 m air pistol, thus only increasing India’s odds of reaching the top three.
One of India’s two medals from the last Olympics came in wrestling, thanks to Sakshi Malik’s incredible run that brought home the bronze.
Five years later, India will aim for a better haul and their prospects on the whole look fairly decent. In the seven-strong wrestlers, the standouts are Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat.
Punia, competing in 65 kg men’s freestyle, won the gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. He has won medals in the last three Asian Wrestling Championships, including a silver this year in Almaty.
Phogat too has a similar record in the previous Commonwealth and Asian Games with gold medals in the 50 kg event. She is coming fresh off another gold medal run in Almaty in the 53 kg category freestyle – the same as her tier for the Olympics.
World No. 7 P. V. Sindhu won the silver in the 2016 Olympics and once again, she finds herself carrying the hopes of a nation.
The then 21-year-old has come a long way since – she won the silver in the Asian and Commonwealth Games in 2018, in addition to winning the gold in the 2019 BWF World Championships.
Even though Sindhu’s form has been a bit erratic in the last couple of seasons, she still remains India’s best chance of winning a medal in badminton. In all fairness, she has had a decent run in 2021 – a runner-up feat in the Swiss Open and a semifinal run in the All England Open.
In the men’s category, there’s B. Sai Sreenath – current World No. 13 who will look to navigate his way through a rather demanding playing field.
Among the heavy favourites for India to win a medal is Mary Kom, who has pretty much established herself as one of the most prominent female boxers in India and the world.
Among the many achievements she has, the most notable is the bronze she won in the 2012 London Olympics and the gold in the last Commonwealth Games. She is set to compete in the Flyweight section in Tokyo.
As for her male counterpart, Amit Phagal will look to deal some damage in the 52kg category.
There are a few other events where Indian sportspeople can possibly emerge as the winners – I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on them and so should you!
Mirabai Chanu is India’s sole participant in weightlifting in this year’s Olympics as the 26-year-old will compete in the women’s 49 kg tier.
This will be her second time in the Summer Games with her 2016 Rio campaign ending in disappointment. But Chanu has made amends for it by winning the World Championships in Anaheim a year later and a gold medal in the Gold Coast Games in 2018.
She also won the National Championships last year.
How can we not mention Hockey when we talk about the Olympics?
Hocket is where India have performed the best at the Games – in the 12 Olympics conducted between 1928 and 1980, India have won gold in eight of them, silver in one, and bronze in two.
Since then, however, they have dramatically stumbled in the Games, posting an 8th and a 12th place finish in the last two editions.
India’s path to glory – men’s and women’s – includes overcoming some big guns like Argentina, Australia, and Germany. Given their recent form, not many are predicting India to pull off a medal here but if they do, it would definitely give the sport a new lease on life in India.
India’s Atanu Das will compete in three events in archery – men’s individual, men’s team, and mixed team. Most recently, Das won the gold in the Archery World Cup 2021 in Guatemala City which adds only further to his impressive repertoire of medals from other World Cups and events through the years.
Similarly, there’s Deepika Kumari – the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medalist who also won the women’s singles event in the Guaetamala World Cup this year. She is also the #1 ranked archer in the women’s recurve category and her participation means India will feature in four of the five archery medal events.
Both players are coming off a pretty good form and remain top contenders to win a medal.
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