India, the emerging ‘Superpower’, takes a backseat, whenever we talk about our achievements at the Olympics. Leaving out the glorious days of hockey, we hardly have anything significant to feel proud of, or to boast about. During the Beijing Olympics when Abhinav Bindra won the gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle shooting, our expectations took a new and higher turn. We started to expect medals in individual events in Olympics. This expectation was further boosted by Vijender Singh’s bronze medal in boxing and Sushil Kumar’s bronze medal in wrestling.
Four years have passed since then and we are on the verge of another Olympics, this time in London. The astounding performance of Indian players in the Commonwealth Games and other international tournaments has raised our expectations, and we are expecting the medals tally to touch double digits this time.
Here is the list of players and the events where we can expect medals from our Olympics team.
Indian Shooting Team
India’s biggest hope for medals in this Olympics is from the shooting team.
Abhinav Bindra (10m air rifle)
India’s first individual Olympic gold medallist and Khel Ratna Awardee Abhinav Bindra has qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games despite finishing eighth in the 10m Air Rifle event of the Shooting World Cup in Munich, Germany. He is the current World and Olympic champion in the 10m Air Rifle event.
Gagan Narang (10m Air Rifle)
Khel Ratna Awardee, Gagan Narang, was the first Indian shooter who qualified for the London 2012. He had won the bronze medal at the World Championships in Munich with an
impressive score of 699.
Ronjan Singh Sodhi (men’s double trap)
World no 1. Ronjan Sodhi scored a total of 183 hits and won the Silver Medal in 2011 ISSF World Cup held at Beijing, and earned an Olympic ticket for India. Ronjan Sodhi had also won the Gold Medal at the 2011 ISSF World Cup held in UAE last year. Sodhi is the most hopeful contender to win a gold medal in shooting for India.
Archery Team – Deepika Kumari
Ever since she won her first World Cup on 5 May 2012, people have huge expectations from Deepika Kumari, who made the country proud with her historic feat. In the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010, Deepika won two gold medals, one in the individual event and other in the women’s team recurve event.
Boxing team – Vijender Singh and Shiva Thapa
Vijender Singh has become India’s leading sports star after winning Bronze Medal in the Beijing Olympics. Things have changed for the 27-year-old boxer after he became the first Indian boxer to win a medal in Olympics history after beating Ecuador’s Carlos Gongora in the quarterfinal. He is currently training in Patiala, ahead of his trip to London for the Olympics. After his brilliant performance in the last Olympics,
people have huge expectations from him, and a medal is expected in this category.
Shiva Thapa, the 18-year-old boxer from Guwahati, has already entered history books by becoming the youngest boxer ever to have qualified for Olympics. His father, Padam Thapa, a karate instructor in Guwahati and his elder brother, Gobind Thapa, an Assam state-level medal winning boxer are the sources of inspiration which made him take up boxing as a profession. While his fellow boxers have to contend with the burden of huge expectations from fans, the little dynamo might just create history.
Mother of two and five-time world amateur boxing champion M.C. Mary Kom took up boxing as a challenge and she did not even tell her parents about it. In spite of having won the World Cup five times, Mary Kom still lacks the kind of support that a five-time world champion deserves. She is the only Indian woman boxer who has qualified for the 2012 Olympics. She confirmed her slot in the Olympics after reaching the quarterfinal of AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship; where she lost to world number two Nicola Adams of England.
Badminton – Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal is a Khel Ratna awardee badminton player currently ranked number five in the world by Badminton World Federation. Saina is the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics and the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships. Saina Nehwal made history on 21 June 2009, when she became the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by defeating a higher-ranked Chinese Wang Lin in Indonesian Open. Saina was the under-19 national champion. And there is a huge expectation of a medal from her.
Wrestling Team – Sushil Kumar
Indian fans would have huge expectations from the 28-year-old wrestler who won a bronze medal in the Men’s 66 kg Freestyle Wrestling event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he outclassed Leonid Spiridonov of Kazakhstan in the repechage round.He failed to defend his World Championship title last year, Sushil Kumar had changed his wrestling style which he tested at the Dave Schultz Memorial International Wrestling Tournament in Colorado Springs, where he won the gold medal. But he struggled in the first Olympic qualifier at Astana last month. He was back in sublime form at the World Qualifier in China last week where he defeated Georgian Otar Tushishvilli.
Indian Swimming Team
1. Sandeep Sejwal
Indian swimmer Sandeep Sejwal qualified for the 2012 London Olympics after clocking 1:02.62 in the 100 m Breaststroke event at the FINA World Championship held at Shanghai in June 2011.
2. Virdhawal Khade
India’s top swimmer Virdhawal Khade qualified for the 100 m freestyle event in the 2012 London Olympics at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai. The Asian Games bronze medallist clocked a timing of 50.34 seconds to book his seat for London.
1. Krishna Poonia
(women’s discuss throw)
Krishna Poonia qualified for the London Olympic Games in discus throw with a gold-winning
performance of 61.12 metres at the Fling Throws meet in USA in October 2011. She contested at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but failed to reach the finals, after finishing 10th in the qualifiers with a throw of 58.23. On 8 May 2012, she recorded her personal best throw of 64.76 metres in Hawaii, USA, which is the new national record.
(men’s discuss throw)
Vikas, the 6 feet 9 inch and 110 kg athlete, qualified for the London Olympics 2012 during the World Championships last year. He threw the discus 64.05 metres and achieved the Olympic qualification mark of B standard, which was 63 metres. His personal best throw is 66.28 metres which is also a national record in discus throw, achieved in April 2012.
Indian Men’s Hockey Team
The highest number of medals (mostly gold) for the country has been won by Indian men’s hockey team. Eight-time Olympic Champions India will start their campaign against the Netherlands on 30 July 2012 in the London Olympics. Though the Indian team did not have much practice on the modern blue-pink turf, they played well in the Sultan Azlan Shah Trophy and won the Bronze Medal. Expecting a medal in hockey this time would be a bit farfetched, but this team has the ability to beat any opponent, and could come out as the dark horse.