The Olympics, the biggest sporting event in the world is close by. Most of us have been bitten by the Olympics bug, and if it hasn’t reached you, the Star Sports campaign on Olympics, ‘Isse bada kuch nahi’ definitely would have. The 2016 Rio Olympics is a little extra special for India, after all we are sending our largest and strongest contingent ever to the Olympic games, around 120 athletes from India will be in Brazil to represent our nation.
The expectations are extremely high and it’s natural. The nation which had won only three Olympic medals from 1996-2004, saw their tally doubled in 2008. India won 3 medals in Beijing, the highest ever till then in a single Olympic games. All records were thrown out of the window four years back in London. The Indian contingent bagged six medals in 2012. The aim is to break the record of medals tally yet again.
As usual, most hopes are attached to the shooting team. All eyes will be on 2008 gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, but Jitu Rai is India’s biggest medal hope. Rai has a habit of stepping up his game at big tournaments. The 2014 Common Wealth Games and 2014 Asian Games gold medalist is in fine form having won the silver medal in the men’s 10m air pistol event at the ISSF world cup held this year.
Another big hope for India is in tennis, the mixed doubles pairing of Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna is expected to give tough fight to Roger Federer-Martina Hingis and Rafael Nadal- Garbine Muguruza pairings. Nobody would be surprised if the pair returns home with medals hanging down their neck.
India was primed to win a medal in archery four years back in London, however things didn’t go according to the plan. Then world no. 1 Deepika Kumari succumbed to the pressure of expectations. She is more experienced now and with some luck, India could very well win its first Olympic medal in archery.
If it’s the Olympics, wrestling cannot be ignored. After all, we have been winning medals consecutively in this event from the last two games. India’s best chances of winning a medal in wrestling rests with Yogeshwar Dutt. He’s been away from the limelight and has been training hard. Also watch out for Vinesh Phogat in the 53 kg women’s freestyle section.
Sania Nehwal is the only badminton player to ever win a medal at the Olympics, and the 2012 Bronze medal winner will be hoping to go the distance this time. Her form saw a dip last year as she struggled with injuries. However, things have improved since then. The fifth seed in the singles competition for the Rio Olympics won the Australian Open Superseries this year, and that would have given her the necessary confidence to excel in Brazil.
Last but not the least, it is the right time to expect a medal from the Indian men’s hockey team. The team has been on a path of resurgence, and recently won the Champions Trophy silver for the first time recently in London.
The Indian contingent is better prepared for Rio 2016 Olympics than London. And I’m going to stick my neck out and predict a record tally of medals for India in Brazil.