The Tokyo Olympics is just about the corner and India is about to send their biggest ever contingent of 126 athletes to fetch accolades for the nation. India had a forgettable outing in the 2016 Rio Olympics where only two medals could be won. But with the passage of time, there has been a lot of improvement in the Indian contingent, with them training hard and fast to perform better this time. India have won just 28 medals in the last 24 Olympics that they have participated in and in a country of more than 1.3 billion people, a better performance can expected. Tokyo Olympics 2020: Check Out Full List of Countries Participating at Summer Games
Putting the Rio disappointment behind, India looks all set and ready to give their best shot in the Tokyo Olympics this year. From Neeraj Chopra and Mirabai Chanu to Deepika Kumari and PV Sindhu, here is a list of 10 Indians, who can secure a podium finish in Tokyo.
1) Mirabai Chanu: One of India's likely guaranteed medals would come from Mirabai Chanu. She was set for a medal in Rio but couldn't pull it off. But the Manipuri weightlifter hasn't let the pressure of that loss get to her. Having not competed in the last year because of the pandemic, Chanu has won gold medals at the 2017 World Championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games. Quite recently, she also lifted 119 kg to win bronze at the Asian Weightlifting Championships. Chanu can become the next Indian after Karnam Malleshwari to win an Olympic medal in weightlifting.
2) Saurabh Chaudhary: Saurabh Chaudhary would be one of India's best shots at a medal in shooting. The talented age has been highly consistent and has qualified for the finals of every tournament he has participated in, since competing as a senior for the first time three years ago, He has won gold medals at the New Delhi and Munich World Cups, a silver medal in the New Delhi 2021 World Cup and a bronze in Rio in 2019. Not to forget, he is also a silver medallist at the Asian Championships in 2019.
3) PV Sindhu: She was one of India's stars in Rio, winning a silver medal in a total of two medals won by the country. This time, she would aim at giving it her best shot once again and aiming for another podium finish. She has been one of India's best badminton players and despite not being consistent enough in the recent past, Sindhu can be expected to shine at the grandest stage of them all. She won the World Championships in 2019 and would aim to take some inspiration from that win, heading into the Tokyo Olympics.
4) Neeraj Chopra: Scripting a new junior world record in 2016 shot Neeraj Chopra into the limelight. The javelin thrower recorded 86.28 metres, a tally which could have fetched him a medal in the Rio Olympics, which had just concluded few months ago. He competed in just one tournament in 2020 where he ensured Olympic qualification with a throw of 87.86 metres. On his return to action this year, he once again registered a new national record of 88.07 metres, the highest by any athlete so far. He is one of India's potential medal winners in Tokyo Olympics 2020.
5) Indian hockey team: India was a dominant force in hockey till 1980 when the country won her last gold medal. But this time, that long wait for a hockey gold in Olympics might end for India, who have had good performances to show for themselves in recent times. They defeated Russia to qualify for the Olympics and also outlasted Olympic champions Argentina twice in the FIH Pro League. Besides, they also have victories of heavyweights like Netherlands, world number one Belgium and Australia.
6) Vinesh Phogat: Among India's women wrestlers, Vinesh Phogat stands a very good chance of winning a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Her debut at the Rio Olympics in 2016 didn't go as planned due to the fact that she got injured but she has fought back, recovered and is raring to target a podium finish this time. Since 2019, she has won a medal in all the 10 tournaments he has participated in. Her best results came in 2019 with a bronze in the World Championships. Phogat has been in good form with victories over former world champion Vanessa Kaladzinskay.
7) Mary Kom: One of India's most celebrated India's female boxers, Mary Kom confirmed recently that Tokyo Olympics would be her last. And she would aim to end on a high. She is heading into the Olympics this year with a silver medal at the Asian Boxing Championship and a bronze medal at the Boxam International Boxing Tournament. Her experience is what would be her biggest arsenal in Tokyo. She has won a total of 19 international medals--and with her being India's flag-bearer, she would aim at adding an Olympic gold to her medal cabinet.
8) Bajrang Punia: Bajrang Punia is one of the India's best wrestlers at the moment and he would be making his Olympic debut this time. He has won three world medals, including two of his last World Championships. Since 2019, Punia has participated in nine international tournaments and has won a medal on every occasion. He has kept himself engaged by competing in tournaments in America since the pandemic and quite recently, he won the Matteo Pellicone tournament in Italy. He is one of the best performers in the 65kg category and is a potential candidate to fetch a medal.
9) Deepika Kumari: A hat-trick of gold medals at the Archery World Cup last month put her in pole position in the list of potential medal winners from India in Tokyo 2020. She had won three gold medals in three recurve events and would lead India's charge in archery at the Tokyo Olympics 2020. She would one of the four archers alongside Pravin Jadhav, husband Atanu Das and Tarundeep Rai. Kumari would also aim to better her Olympics record by going past the round of 16, which he has failed to do in 2012 and 2016.
10) Amit Panghal: He was the champion in the men's 52kg category and also climbed to the top of the world rankings. Panghal had defeated Philippines' Carlo Palaam 4-1 to book an Olympic spot. He lost to Rio Olympics bronze medallist Jianguan Hu of China but that didn't stop him. He defeated Hu in the 2019 Asian Championship in Bangkok. Panghal has a good opportunity to win a medal in Tokyo, with two major opponents to defeat in Uzbekistan's Shakhobidin Zoirov and Hu of China and with no third place bouts in place.
India would be really hoping that these athletes or the others in the 126-strong contingent win accolades for the country. A defeat or an exit could mean the end of their careers but a victory and a podium finish could skyrocket their name to glory in Indian Olympic history.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jul 12, 2021 09:03 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).