As the nation has been pondering over their athletes’ performances at the recently concluded Rio Olympic Games where India could only win two medals – one bronze and one silver; there are also those in power who have tried to make sure we get to know the real reason behind the disappointing results in Brazil even with a contingent of 121 athletes.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also recently announced the setting up of a task force which will determine what we need to do to improve our nation’s performances at the future three Olympic Games starting from Tokyo 2020.
There have also been those who have blamed the poor infrastructural facilities provided to the athletes for the failure to compete with the best from around the world. But in Rio, we also saw glimpses of several athletes who ended up impressing the world at a young age in their sport. Therefore, we have assembled a list of sports from which the nation can expect medals in Tokyo 2020:
India saw itself being represented by three female and one male archer at the Rio Olympic Games. There was not much expectation from either of the two genders as there are several top-ranked archers who featured at the Games for their respective countries. India was represented by 31-year-old Bombayla Devi, 27-year old Laxmirani Majhi and 22-year old Deepika Kumari.
Even though not many people gave them a shot of progressing to the latter stages of the competition, the females did not disappoint the nation one bit. They lost in the quarter-finals of the team competition to the Russian Federation after having led them in the first set. In the individual category, it was the experienced Bombayla Devi who did a great job of qualifying for the Round of 16 even though she is ranked a lowly 69 in the world.
In the men’s category, it was Atanu Das who made great strides as well in Rio as he lost in the Round of 16 clash against South Korea’s Lee Seung-yun. However, four years later in Tokyo, this man will be someone to watch out for. At the age of just 24 he has a mature head on his shoulders and it will prove to help him in the future.
The Indian archery department has the perfect amalgamation of youth and experience, and it should stand them in good stead in the next Olympics. What they need is the right kind of exposure to gain experience of aiming for the target even with strong winds. Also, finding the right archers and developing them for four years will be the key in addition to training Das and Kumari.
PV Sindhu’s silver medal victory at the Rio Olympics made her the first woman Indian athlete to ever win the silver medal at the Olympic Games. But that said, there were not many positives to come out from the spectacle in Brazil for Indian badminton.
The favourite to win a medal in Rio was always Saina Nehwal but the shuttler suffered a knee injury just days ahead of the Games and that affected her performance as she was knocked out in the preliminary stages. Whereas, the doubles pairing of Ashwini Ponappa and Jwala Gutta was also disappointing as they ended up with the same fate.
In the men’s competition, Srikanth Kidambi impressed with his quarterfinal finish but the doubles pairing of Manu Attri and BS Reddy could not get past the group stages. Therefore, it is more than important for the Indian shuttlers to focus on their game to make the required improvements for the event in four years’ time in Japan.
The sport could provide a haul of medals in Tokyo if the development of players is bang on track, but the women’s doubles competition may not have much to provide to India’s medal chances in Tokyo. But Nehwal, Sindhu, Kidambi will be ready for the event and to take the biggest prize in Tokyo.
With India’s medal tally having reduced to two from the six medals we won in London 2012, it was wrestling which was the disappointing sport in Rio where all the male competitors from the nation failed to get any medals. The sport has been on the climb for the past 4-5 years where we have seen wrestlers like Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt and Narsingh Yadav come to the fore.
However, that wasn’t the case in Brazil as the likes of Yogeshwar, Ravinder Khatri, Sandeep Tomar and Hardeep Singh could not even qualify for the quarterfinals of the event in Rio. Whereas Narsingh Yadav was found guilty of taking a banned substance by WADA and CAS.
But Sakshi Malik, Vinesh Phogat and Babita Kumari took great pride in representing the nation and fared better than their male compatriots. It will be up to these three along with budding young wrestlers who will hope to take India’s tally to double digits in Tokyo.
India has a broad squad of wrestlers in the country and it could be the sport where the country finally dominates in Japan in 2020. For that to happen, strict anti-doping measures need to be taken along with shrewd preparations where wrestlers should do a proper homework on the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.
Hockey has been India’s strength at the Olympic Games historically but that hasn’t been the case when we talk about the nation’s performances in the last 30-odd years. The national team has failed to win a medal since the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
The country has won a total of 8 gold medals in the sport along with one silver medal and two bronze medals. However, after failing to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, the team has seen themselves qualify for London 2012 and Rio 2016 but their performances have meant they have finished at the 12th and 8th spot respectively.
Whereas, on the other hand, India’s women’s side made their return to the Olympic Games after a 36-year absence which was a positive sign. However, at Tokyo 2020, it will again be men’s hockey team which will be expected to compete for the medals. The hockey team has been improving in the past couple of years under coach Roelant Oltmans and the team could be one of the best in four year’s time.
However, you cannot say the same for the women’s side as they are very much behind a team like Argentina who had thrashed them 5-0 at the Games.
India’s shooting contingent at the Rio Olympic Games had a total of 12 shooters – male and female combined. But the medals earned from the sport were zero as compared to the two medals they had won in London in 2012. There were high expectations from experienced shooters Gagan Narang and Abhinav Bindra whereas younger marksman Jitu Rai was also expected to bring home a medal from Rio.
But as the Games took place, each day brought disappointment to the Indian fans after all the 12 shooters failed to win any medals. However, this might not be the case when India goes to Tokyo in 2020. The country has been producing some great shooters since 2004 and the next Olympics will be another chance for a young shooter to go ahead and achieve a podium finish.
A panel had been made by the National Rifle Association India which was headed by recently retired shooter Abhinav Bindra to look at all the reasons for the failure of India’s shooters at the Games. If Bindra is going to help his fellow shooters for the next Olympics, then we can surely expect multiple medals from this sport in Tokyo.
India will be hoping they can finally come of age at the Olympic Games when they step foot in Tokyo but that would require a tremendous amount of grassroots work by the authorities and the athletes alike.