When it comes to sports and national pride, nothing comes closer to the Olympics. One can argue that for most of the athletes in the world, winning an Olympic medal is the ultimate dream.
However, for us Indians, our relationship with the sport’s biggest event could only be described as underwhelming at best.
In the earlier years, we used to regularly win medals in Hockey, but we suffered an embarrassing barren spell during 1980-90’s. Since the turn of the century, there have been some positive signs, and it appears that steps are being taken in the right direction. Notwithstanding, we could manage only 2 medals at Brazil 2016.
Despite the debacle in 2016, the future looks bright as our entire country is finally waking up to sports, besides Cricket. A lot of new medal prospects have emerged in last few years, and we are going to look at top five medal prospects for Tokyo 2020.
1. P.V Sindhu (Badminton)
Sindhu become a nationwide sensation when she claimed a silver at Rio, at the age of 21. There is no reason that the she can’t repeat the feat in Tokyo. Arguably, she is a much better player now than she was two years ago. She is among consistently among the top five players in the world, and currently, she is number 4 in world rankings. Last year, she won two Super Series titles, but lost in the finals of World Championships and Super Series Finals. She is a contender for a medal at Tokyo, and all she would need is a bit of luck in the draws.
2. Indian Men’s Hockey Team
For a period of time, it looked like Hockey is dying in India. However, the last years have given a new lease of hope to Indian Hockey fans. We made it to the quarterfinals in Rio 2016 after a gap of 36 years. Roelant Oltmans has been sacked, but Sjoerd Marijne has done well since his appointment as the head coach of the men’s team in 2017. We managed the third spot in Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneshwar last December. We are set to host World Cup, later this year, and we will be favourites for a place on the podium.
3. Shiva Thapa (Boxing)
There is no doubt that we are a force to reckon with in amateur boxing. Vijendra Singh and Mary Kom have already made us proud, and we can expect for more glory in 2020. Shiva Thapa, who is the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for Olympics, has bowed out in the first round in last two editions. However, he is currently ranked number three in his weight category and he is a top medal prospect for us.
4. Neeraj Chopra (Javelin Throw)
Neeraj Chopra could very well become the first Indian to win an Olympic medal at track and field events. The 20-year-old has already set a world junior world, and he won the Gold Medal at 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships. In doing so, he became the first Indian athlete to win a gold at world championships. His personal best of 86.48m could have been enough to won him a Bronze medal at Rio.
Over the years, the likes of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar have claimed medals in Olympics. However, in 2016, the 12-member team could only draw a blank. The 2020 Olympics will introduce mixed-team events in shootings, and we should benefit from this development. At present, we have a number of world-class shooters, and it is expected that this development will help us win more than one medal in shooting in 2020.
If you think we missed out any other prospects, please do leave your comments below in the comments section.