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India’s golden girls at the Olympics

india Updated: Jul 27, 2012 17:56 IST
Prashant Singh

Now, more than ever, we need to celebrate the power of the Indian woman. Over the last month or so, some shocking incidents have revealed our indifference, brutality and disrespect towards the fairer sex.

But as India’s Olympic contingent strives to win laurels at the 2012 London Games, all eyes will be on the women who could be putting India on the podium.

Viren Rasquinha (former men’s hockey captain who was part of the team that participated in the 2004 Athens Olympics) and Anjali Bhagwat (former world No 1 shooter who represented India in three consecutive Olympics, and was a finalist in Sydney, a first for Indian female shooters) tell us why these five champion female athletes are the ones who will do us proud.

Deepika Kumari: Archery
Report card:

The 18-year-old from Jharkhand is currently ranked world No 1, and won her first World Cup individual recurve gold medal in May. Besides, Deepika won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the women’s individual as well as team recurve event.

Expert speak

Viren Rasquinha: “The best thing about Deepika is that she is young and fearless. And at times,that attitude is half the
battle won.”Anjali Bhagwat: “She is the dark horse. The best part is that she is very raw and has nothing to lose. Mark my words: she is India’s brightest chance (to win a medal).”

Krishna Poonia:

Discus thrower

Report card: She is the national women discus throw champion. In the Commonwealth Games, she led an Indian clean sweep in the women’s discus final by winning gold. She competed at the Beijing Olympics, but failed to reach the finals. But in May (2012), she recorded her personal best throw of 64.76 metres, the new national record.
Expert speak
Rasquinha: “She is a great talent, but the competition is steep. That might make it difficult for her to grab a medal.”
Bhagwat: “She has worked hard, but has competition. If she just records her personal best throw, it will be huge.”

MC Mary Kom: Boxing
Report card: The 29-year-old Padma Shri, who is called ‘Magnificent Mary’, is a five-time World Boxing champion. The mother of two is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six World Championships. Currently, she is ranked world No 4 in the 51 kg category.
Expert speak
Rasquinha: “No words can praise her enough. She is already a legend and a great inspiration. I’m sure she would want to cap that with an Olympic medal.”Bhagwat: “The best part is that she is already mentally prepared. Plus, she is training very hard right now.”

Saina Nehwal: Badminton
Report card: The 22-year-old Khel Ratna awardee is ranked five in the world (the top rank in Indian women’s badminton history). At the Beijing Olympics, Saina became the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals. This time, she enters the Olympics with three back-to-back wins — Swiss Open, Thailand Open and Indonesia Open Super Series.

Expert speak
Rasquinha: “It’s Saina’s best chance. She has found form at the right time. In badminton, strength and
fitness play a major role and she has both.”
Bhagwat: “Mentally, Saina is tough. Plus, she is peaking at the right time, which is very important.”

Sania Mirza: Tennis
Report card: The fact that Sania is the Indian No 1 in both singles and doubles (she has held this position since 2003) speaks volumes about her talent. A medal in the mixed doubles category is expected from Sania, considering the 25-year-old Padma Shri won the category at the 2012 French Open (her second Grand Slam title) last month.

Expert speak:
Rasquinha: “Sania has the best chance in mixed doubles with Leander (Paes). The French Open victory will be a huge
confidence booster.”Bhagwat: “The fact that Sania has participated in Olympics will be of great help. She knows how to handle pressure and expectations.”