As the Tokyo Olympics draws nearer, the country's athletes have been busying themselves in preparation for the world’s biggest sporting spectacle. The Tokyo Games promises to be a notch higher than the previous Olympic editions, with more than 70 Indian athletes already having qualified for the event.
The country finished 67th at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It sounds rational enough for India to aim for a top-30 spot in Tokyo, considering the improved performances of the athletes.
India's performance in athletics at the Olympics
The Tokyo Olympics will be India's 24th appearance in athletics at the mega event. India has never medaled in track and field disciplines at the Olympics post-independence. Representing India, British-Indian athlete Norman Pritchard won two Olympic bronze medals in 1900 during the British reign.
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However, promises shown by the likes of Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh have raised India's hopes of a first-ever athletics medal at the Olympics.
Neeraj to keep India's medal hopes alive at Tokyo Olympics
One of India's biggest Olympic medal hopes, Neeraj Chopra has been on a ruthless streak over the past few years.
Currently ranked 7th in the Road To Tokyo rankings, Neeraj shrugged off his nerves to make a winning return to competiton last year after a year-long elbow injury. His effort of 87.86m at the Athletics Central North East meeting was well over the Olympic qualifying standard of 85m.
The Haryana javelin thrower came into the spotlight after creating a new U-20 world record at the IAAF U-20 World Championships in 2016. There has been an upward swing in his form ever since.
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Neeraj bagged gold at the 2018 Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. He was chosen as the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent at the 2018 Asian Games as well.
He broke his own national record in the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix Series last month with a 88.07m throw. With the perfect blend of endurance and flexibility, Neeraj should stand a good chance of medaling at the Tokyo Olympics.
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Shivpal on the threshold of maiden Olympic glory
Another of India's medal hopefuls, javelin thrower Shivpal Singh has shown exponential improvement ever since he was introduced to the sport. He sealed a spot for the Tokyo Olympics after throwing 85.47m at the Athletics Central North East meeting in March last year.
Shivpal began his 2021 campaign with a silver at the IGP III after hurling the spear to a distance of 81.63m. Standing on the cusp of an opportunity to change fortunes, Shivpal will be keen to put on his best show at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 26-year-old won silver at the 2019 Asian Athletics Championship and gold at the 2019 Military World Games.
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4x400m mixed relay event could be a game-changer for India
India executed their best-ever performance in the mixed 4x400m relay at the 2019 Doha World Championships.
The team of Muhammed Anas, VK Vismaya, Jisna Mathew and Nirmal Noah clocked 3:15:77s to qualify for the Tokyo Games. In the process, the relay team bettered their previous season-best timing of 3:16.47.
Buoyed by their World Championships feat, the Indian team will hope to taste success at the Tokyo Olympics.