5 Indian players to watch out for in 2020 Olympics - Part 1

Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020

We are just a few months away from the biggest sporting event to kick start in the capital city of Japan. With a participation of more than 11000 athletes from over 200 countries, the 32nd edition of these games is surely going to be the biggest and most spectacular event in history. This will be the second time that Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Olympics, the first one being in 1964. Games like Karate, Surfing, Sport-climbing, and Skateboarding will be making their Olympic debut whereas Baseball and softball will be making a comeback in this quadrennial event after a gap of 12 years.

As far as Indian contingent is concerned, 62 players in 6 different sports including members of two hockey teams have qualified for the games so far. Indian participation has seen significant growth in the number of players qualifying for the mega event in the last decade. From 67 in 2012 to 83 in 2016 and a massive 117 in 2016, qualification standards have only gone higher for the Indian athletes but it's the medals tally where the country hasn't seen continuous growth.

In this article, we will see the list of five Indian players along with their medal-winning chances. The winning percentage is calculated on the performance of the player in the year 2018 and 2019.

#1 Bajrang Punia (Wrestling)

Bajrang Punia
Bajrang Punia

25-year-old from Jhajjar, Haryana and a former World No. 1, Bajrang Punia, who was recently awarded India’s highest sporting honor, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna would be aiming for nation’s first-ever Gold Medal in Wrestling at the highest level. Bajrang has had the Midas touch since 2018, after winning a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games last year, he claimed the yellow metal at Asian Games in Jakarta before winning his second Asian Championships gold in China this year after pinning down some of the biggest names in this category.

He sealed the Olympic quota by winning the bronze medal at World Wrestling Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan in September this year. This was his third medal at the World Championships level, he had won a silver medal last year and a bronze in the 2013 edition in Budapest. Ranked No. 2 in the world, Bajrang is currently behind the reigning World and former European Champion Gadzhimurad Gazigandovich Rashidov of Russia. After fully recovering from his elbow injury which he sustained before the World Championships, this former Arjuna Awardee is all set to begin his new season from January. Going by his performances and rankings in the last couple of years, Bajrang would undoubtedly be one of the best medal prospects for the country in the next year's Olympics.

Chances of winning the medal – 80-85 %

Also check: Tokyo olympics 2020 medal tally

#2 Divyansh Singh Pawar (Shooting)

Divyansh Singh Pawar
Divyansh Singh Pawar

Divyansh, a 17-year-old shooting prodigy from Jaipur, Rajasthan grabbed the spotlight after claiming the Olympic quota for the country by winning the silver in men's 10m Air Rifle event at ISSF World Cup in Beijing earlier this year. He was also an important contributor in the historic 21 golds that Indian shooters have bagged in ISSF World Cups this year.

In the recently concluded World Cup Final in China, Divyansh took the top spot in the individual event by shooting 250.1 in the final. Peni Istvan of Hungary took the silver medal with a score of 250.0. This was his 4th gold medal in World Cups this year and first in the individual category. The remaining three have come in the mixed team event.

Interestingly, this is Divyansh's first year in the senior category. In 2018, he won two gold medals at ISSF Junior World Cup in Suhl, Germany. The trio of Panwar, Hriday Hazarika and Tushar Mane secured the gold in the men's team 10-meter air rifle event with a score of 1875.3 which is also a world junior record, in mixed event Panwar along with Elavenil Valarivan smashed another world record in junior category after scoring 498.6 in the finals. Later on, he went on to win the bronze medal in junior mixed team event along with Shreya Agarwal at World Shooting Championships in Changwon, China. Divyansh, who began shooting at the age of 12 would be one of the top medal contenders for India in Tokyo 2020.

Chances of winning the medal in the individual category - 50-55%

Chances of winning the medal in mixed team event - 65-70%

#3 Apurvi Chandela (Shooting)

Apurvi Chandela.
Apurvi Chandela.

The ace Indian shooter and current World No.3 who hails from Jaipur would be participating in the 10m air rifle event at the 2020 Olympics. She won the gold medal in the 2019 ISSF World Cup that took place in New Delhi.

2012 was the year when this young shooter came into limelight after winning gold in a 10m air rifle event at the National shooting championships in New Delhi. In 2014 she won four medals at the Intershoot championship at Hague which includes two individuals and two team medals. Later on, she went on to win the gold medal at Commonwealth Games in Glasgow by scoring 206.7 points in the final. Chandela had a rather disappointing outing at the Rio Olympics as she finished at 34th spot out of 51 participants in the qualification round.

The year 2019 has been a splendid year for this 26-year-old rifle shooter as she has won three golds and one silver medal at the ISSF World Cups. Out of the four medals, two golds have come in individual events whereas the rest have come in the mixed team event. In 2018 Asian games, she paired with Ravi Kumar in the mixed team event and successfully clinched the Bronze medal. She is currently being mentored by former National Champion Rakesh Manpat. With a bunch of experience and tremendous recent form in her kitty, Apurvi would be roaring to set her mark at the highest level.

Chances of winning the medal in the individual category - 55-60%

Chances of winning the medal in mixed team event - 65-70%

#4 Manu Bhaker (Shooting)

Manu Bhaker
Manu Bhaker

At 22, Manu Bhaker, a shooter from Jhajjar, Haryana, is already the World No. 4 in women's 10m Air Pistol category. Her performance has been sensational in the last couple of years as she has bagged 11 golds and 1 silver in various levels of international competitions.

She won the Olympic spot after shooting 236.7 points in the final, 1.9 points more than her compatriot and 2004 Olympics Champion, Olena of Ukraine at the Rio World Cup. She recently achieved the top spot at World Cup final in Putian, China after she broke the World Junior Record (244.7) on her path to being crowned as the champion. This was her first gold in the individual category and fifth overall in ISSF World Cups this year.

It was the year 2018 when the dreams started to turn into reality for the then 16-years-old. After becoming the first shooter and the first female athlete from the nation to grab a Gold medal at the Youth Olympics games in 2018, Manu went on to win the gold in the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast by setting a new Games record.

She then got the better of the two times World Cup finals champion Alejandra Zavala at World Cup in Guadalajara, Mexico and won the gold. Not just in the individual event, she is a very strong contender to win the gold in the mixed team event as she along with Saurabh Chaudhary, has taken the top spot in all the four Pistol & Rifle ISSF World Cups this year.

Apart from shooting she is a born talent as she excelled in other events like boxing, tennis, karate, skating, and cricket. With her exceptional record, Manu would set out on a quest to become India's youngest medal winner at the Olympics.

Chances of winning the medal in the individual category - 65-70%

Chances of winning the medal in mixed team event - 85-90%

#5 Deepika Kumari (Archery)

Deepika Kumari
Deepika Kumari

A seasoned campaigner and a former World No. 1 Deepika Kumari secured the Olympic quota after winning the gold medal at the 21st Asian Championships in Bangkok, Thailand. Competing without a national flag due to the suspension of the Archery Association of India by World Archery, she outclassed her compatriot Ankita Bhakat 6-0 in a one-sided final.

Going into the tournament as a top seed, Deepika put up an impeccable show as she thrashed Nur Afisa Abdul Halil of Malaysia 7-2 in the opening round before getting the better of Zahra Nemati of Iran (6-4) in a nail-biting encounter in Round 2 and finally defeating Thai girl, Narisara Khunhiranchaiyo (6-2) in the quarters, thus securing an Olympic berth.

Ranked No. 9 in the world in women's recurve event, Deepika Kumari was engaged to fellow Indian archer and former World Championships silver medalist Atanu Das last year. Deepika, who took the yellow metal after a gap of six years at World Cup Stage 3 in 2018 also won the bronze at World Cup Finals that took place in Samsun, Turkey the same year. After forgettable performances at London and Rio Olympics, Deepika, with a blessing of 1.3 billion Indians would be striving to achieve the podium finish in Tokyo.

Chances of winning the medal - 40-45%

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Edited by A. Ayush Chatterjee