India created history when it became the first Asian country to send female athletes to the Olympics in 1952. Since then only one female athlete, Karnam Malleswari, has earned India an Olympic medal – a bronze in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. It is unfortunate that no Indian female athlete has ever won the gold medal at the highest level but now in 2012, it’s an entirely different scene altogether. In this edition of the Olympic Games, the top contenders for gold medal are mostly female players.
So let us take a look at the female athletes who can create history by winning the prestigious Olympic Gold:
Deepika Kumari, who won the individual and team Gold Medal at the CWG in 2010 is currently the World No.1 Archer in Women’s Individual Recurve event. This 18 year old talented girl is one of the best medal prospect for India at the London Olympics. Deepika, who won the cadet World Championship title in November 2009, has recently won the Gold Medal at the World Cup Stage-2 at Antalya, Turkey. Deepika will not only be in medal contention in the individual recurve event but also in team event along with Bombayla Devi and Chekruwolu Swuro. The trio is currently the World No.2 in the FITA team rankings.
Before leaving for the Olympics Deepika said, “Olympic is not a ghost, so there is nothing to be scared about. I have the self belief and confidence… That’s how, I am here.”
Strong determination, hard work and an inborn talent to aim and shoot have put the eldest daughter of auto rickshaw driver Shivnarayan Mahato and nurse Geeta Mahato on the world stage, making her India’s strongest medal contender at the London Olympics.
Saina Nehwal, popularly called as ‘Super Saina’, is also one of the best medal prospect for India at the London Olympics. Saina Nehwal, who recently won the Indonesian Super Series Premier by defeating Xuerui Li of China in the finals, has been in excellent form this year. After winning the Swiss Open Grand Prix in March, Saina Nehwal won the Thailand Open before clinching the Indonesia Open. Saina Nehwal, currently the World no.5 in Women’s Singles Rankings, has defeated some of the top Chinese players this year.
Saina is confident of winning the medal at the Olympics.
“It is the highest level of the game and a dream for any sportsperson; I can only hope and try, cannot predict. Let’s wait and see what London holds for me. My coach Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) and the team are doing their best to help me with my game and build confidence level,” said the badminton star.
So let’s hope and pray that this 22 year old girl will make us proud at the London Olympics.
M.C. Mary Kom
Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom or simply Mary Kom is a five time World Champion and the current Asian Champion. Mary Kom, who qualified for the London Olympics during the Women’s World Boxing Championships in China, is the only female boxer from India who will be on view at London. Currently the World No. 4, Mary Kom is also the mother of two children. This 29-year old Manipuri, who has been rated as the 38th most marketable athletes in the world by the leading British magazine, SportsPro, is confident of winning the prestigious Olympic Medal for the country.
“I can say this because in Olympics if you win one bout, you are in quarterfinals. And keeping in mind my training so far, one thing I am sure of is that I’m going to bring one medal home…Gold, silver or bronze, I can’t really predict,” said the 51 kg boxer in an interview.
Looking at her recent form, she is surely a big medal prospect for India. Her main competitors are Ren Cancan of China and Nicole Adams of England and if she wants to clinch the yellow metal she has to defeat these two world class boxers.
Krishna Poonia, who became the first Indian woman to win the Gold Medal at Common Wealth Games in Delhi, is also the National Record Holder in Women’s Discuss Throw. On 8 May 2012, Krishna hurled the discuss to 64.76 meters to not only pocket the silver medal but also break Seema Antil’s existing national record of 64.64 meters. There is also a big motivation for her going into the event. Her performance in the last Olympics at Beijing was disastrous. She couldn’t even make it to the final, finishing 10th among the qualifiers with a throw of 58.23. In four years time, she has gone up to 64.76 and that’s a profound improvement. But her task of winning the medal won’t be that easy because some of the top discuss throwers from around the World will also be around. She has to throw the discuss to at least 65 metres if she needs to clinch the medal. Krishna Poonia, who landed in England almost 10 days ago, said that she wants to get acclimatised with the local conditions as soon as possible. So let’s hope that the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist also shines at the highest level.
Sania Mirza will be in action in the Women’s Doubles and the Mixed Doubles tennis at the London Olympics. In Women’s Doubles, she will be partnering Rushmi Chakravarthi. It seems tough to get the medal in Women’s Doubles as Rashmi doesn’t have much experience of playing at the highest level. But in Mixed Doubles the duo of Sania and Leander will be a strong medal hope for India. The captain of Indian Davis Cup squad, SP Misra, is also confident about the duo winning the medal at the Olympics.
“India have a good chance to win a medal in the mixed doubles. They [Sania and Paes] are not newcomers. They have wealth of experience behind them. Paes has won 13 Grand Slam titles and Sania has been playing doubles for so long. So I don’t see a problem in that…” said Misra in an interview.
The duo might not have played together for a long time but yet they are a huge medal prospect for India at the London Olympics.