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Rio 2016: Bollywood roots for Indian athletes

As India’s biggest-ever contingent competes in Rio 2016, five Bollywood actors talk about the players and teams they will watch closely during the event.

bollywood Updated: Aug 07, 2016 17:54 IST
Prashant Singh
Deepika Kumar, Narsingh Yadav and Sania Mirza are some of the top probables for bagging a medal at the Olympics.
Deepika Kumar, Narsingh Yadav and Sania Mirza are some of the top probables for bagging a medal at the Olympics.(AP/PTI/Getty Images)

The Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world, and it lived up to its image when it kicked off with a glitzy opening ceremony in Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5.

Even though multiple scandals grabbed headlines before the Indian contingent left for Rio, expectations from the Indian sportspersons are still riding high.

Read: Salman clears the air on his Olympics goodwill ambassadorship

HT Café speaks to five Bollywood stars — who are big sports aficionados — about the Indian players and teams that they will root for during the ongoing sporting extravaganza.

John Abraham says boxer Shiva Thapa is someone to watch out for. (Viral Bhayani)

John Abraham

Shiva Thapa (boxing): A probable medalist, Shiva is someone to watch out for.

Narsingh Yadav (wrestling): Before being exonerated, he made news for all the right and wrong reasons. But he, too, is a strong probable medalist.

Indian men’s hockey team: I will watch out for their performance largely due to my proximity to Sardar Singh (a member of the team). Coach Roelant Oltmans has said the team is improving; I hope it improves in time for the matches (smiles).

Varun Dhawan feels Saina Nehwal will again be India’s biggest hope in badminton. (Hindustan Times)

Varun Dhawan

Saina Nehwal (badminton): The 2012 Olympics bronze medalist will again be India’s biggest hope in the sport.

Sania Mirza (tennis): Sania has been having a dream run at several Grand Slams. Also, her experience will come in handy.

Indian men’s hockey team: From failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics to entering the 2016 games on the back of a silver medal in the Champions Trophy — the team is clearly on the rise.

Siddharth Malhotra is excited to see how far the Indian women’s hockey team goes at the Olympics.

Sidharth Malhotra

Deepika Kumari (archery): She is among India’s biggest medal hopes in the individual as well as the team events

Indian women’s hockey team: They have made it to the Olympics after 36 long years. So, it will be exciting to see how far they go

Shiva Thapa (boxing): Ranked sixth in the world in his category, Thapa has a lot of expectations riding on him.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui feels gymnast Dipa Karmakar could be a “dark horse.”

Read: Rio Olympics controversy fizzled out, wanted it to last longer: Salman

Nawazuddin Siddiqui

Saina Nehwal (badminton): She’s the stuff champions are made of. If she’s in full form, she has a great chance to go all the way.

Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics): She has made history (she is the first female gymnast from India to qualify for the Olympics). The 22-year-old could be a dark horse.

Narsingh Yadav (wrestling): After making news for some unfortunate reasons, I’m sure he will be driven to focus on the job at hand — to win a medal.

Rahul Bose says he has rarely seen someone like shooter Abhinav Bindra who is “so perfectly balanced between poise, preparation and competitiveness.” (Yogen Shah)

Rahul Bose

Abhinav Bindra (shooting): I have rarely seen someone so perfectly balanced between poise, preparation and competitiveness.

Saina Nehwal (badminton): I have seen only a few sportspersons play with such sheer determination to bring glory to her and the country.

Dipa Karmakar (gymnastics): Hers is a fairy tale of rising despite great odds in a discipline that Indians have no history of excelling in. What a moment it is going to be for her when she competes in Rio!

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