India’s Olympic record is nothing to write home about. These men and women are hoping to change all that this summer
Vijender Singh (Age 27, from Kalwas near
Vijender won bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He added a world championships bronze in 2009.
In sight: The last time Vijender won a medal in a major competition was in Dec 2010 at the Asiad. His run-up to the Olympics has been fraught with disappointments. He lost in
the first round of the World Championships.
Reality check: At the Beijing Games, he had the luck of the draw. With two-time world champ Abbas Atoev (Uzb), Cuban Emilio Correa (Vijender lost to him twice) and reigning world champion Levgen Khytrov out to prove themselves, he will find himself in tough company.
Date with destiny: First round on July 28
Vikas Krishan, 20, Bhiwani
Became the youngest boxer to win the 2010 Asian Games gold at Guangzhou.
After the Guangzhou gold, he switched to a higher weight category (from 60 to 69) and still managed to clinch bronze at the World championship last year.
Reality check: A lot will depend on the luck of the draw, though Krishan’s mental strength can help him surmount all odds. Lack of international exposure in the new weight category could be a problem for the sixth ranked player in the world in his category.
The first round is on July 29. All boxing finals on August 12
Abhinav Bindra 29, Zirakpur near Mohali
India’s first individual Olympic gold-medallist, at the 2008 Beijing Games, is also the youngest recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna when he was 19. He is also the first Indian to win the world championship title in 2006.
Despite a debilitating back problem he fought back to win gold in Zagreb and Beijing. Expecting an encore at the London Games will not be asking for the moon.
Reality check: It will be an all-too-familiar scenario for Bindra in his fourth Olympics. Qualifying at virtually the last minute, he won the Asian championship title in Doha in January this year. Slowly but surely Bindra is getting back into the zone.
July 30, just three days after the opening ceremony.
Gagan Narang, 28, Hyderabad
Became the first Indian to qualify for the London Olympics. Has equalled the world record in qualification round twice, shooting perfect 600s. Won 4 gold at both the 2006 Melbourne and 2010 New Delhi CWG.
After missing the ‘finals’ in the Beijing Olympics, he has become even more aggressive, as he showed en route to winning the world championship bronze.
Reality check: He is competing in all the three rifle events and though the 10m rifle is his favourite, he can be menacing in the 50m events too. With a single-minded dedication he has trained at the Balewadi complex in Pune and he will be the shooter to beat.
July 30 (10m air rifle), August 3 (50m prone), August 6 (50m 3-position)
Ronjan Sodhi, 32, Ferozepur, now residing in Delhi
He is also the world record holder in the double-trap event with a score of 195/200.
His gold at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games spurred him to achieving more. It culminated in his ascent to the world No 1 spot in July last year.
Reality check: He is not one to keep a tab on his rivals. “Every shooter develops his psychology and it’s about who clicks on the given day,” he says. Has been training at foreign coach Marcello Dradi’s base in Masari, Italy.
August 2 will be his big day
MC Marykom, 29, Kangathei village near Imphal
She has won five gold and a silver in world championships.
Even after motherhood, she came back and won two world championships gold. Being a southpaw has always been an advantage.
Reality check: The Olympics is a different ball game. This year competing in the 51kg, which is higher than her usual 48kg, she failed to advance to the semis, losing to England’s Nicola Adams at the worlds. She had to wait for Adams’ win in the final to qualify. With just 12 boxers in fray, a lot will depend on the draw. The first round is on August 5
Saina Nehwal, 22, Hyderabad
Became the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament in 2009.
She has won major tournaments and has troubled many top players, including the higher ranked Chinese players. Last month, she won back-to-back titles.
Reality check: She is ranked No.5 in the world, and all players above her in the list are Chinese. Three of them would be in London, so she would need to look out for them.
Competition starts on July 28 with the final on August 4
Sushil Kumar 29, Baprola
Bagged bronze in Beijing, also won gold in the 2010 world championship.
In the build-up to the London Games qualification, Sushil deviated from his path and competed in a few inconsequential international meets, which upset his rhythm.
Reality check: A nagging shoulder injury had hampered Sushil’s training after the Beijing triumph. Critics say he is not the Sushil of old.
Bouts begin from August 8
Deepika Kumari (18, Ranchi), Chekrovolu Swuro (30, Nagaland); Bombayla Devi (27, Imphal)
Winning silver at the World championships in Turin last year is the team’s biggest achievement.
Having achieved qualification almost a year in advance, the team has been doing Olympic-specific training for quite some time now. This has helped improve their rhythm.
Reality check: South Korea, Chinese Taipei and Italy are the toughest opponents but India have defeated them over the past one year. But beating South Korea in the semifinals of the World championships takes the cake.
The medals will be decided on July 29
Jayanta Talukdar (26, Guwahati), Tarundeep Rai (28, Sikkim) and Rahul Banerjee (25, Kolkata)
They won gold in the World Cup in Shanghai in 2010, silver in the World Cup in Ogden last month.
The trio managed to sneak in after finishing second to Japan in an exclusive qualification tournament on the sidelines of the World Cup in Ogden last month.
Reality check: Going by the scores the trio hit at Ogden during the World Cup and the qualification event, it can be said they have peaked at the right time. South Korea remain the team to beat but India would take heart from recent form.
The men’s team elimination will be held on July 28
Leander Paes (39, Kolkata) & Sania Mirza (25, Hyderabad)
Paes is a winner of six Grand Slam mixed doubles titles, while Mirza has two to her credit. Paes also has an individual bronze at the Atlanta Games.
Told to play together by the tennis federation, Paes and Mirza’s last mixed doubles outing had been at the 2010 CWG. Considered favourites to win gold because of a successful 2006 Doha Asian Games, the pair suffered a shock defeat to the Scottish duo of Colin Fleming and Jocelyn Rae 5-7, 4-6.
Reality check: Paes and Mirza are both right-court players. Recalling the last time she kept the left side (at the CWG), Mirza said it had been a ‘disaster’. With a few days left for London, there’s been absolutely no communication between the duo on how to pair and practice. However, both have shown on the circuit that they have what it takes to win on the big stage.
The entry deadline is on July 31 and on-site. Event begins on August 1
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