Entry points: India’s Olympics potential

Four sports that India took a shot at, in a manner of speaking, at the Tokyo Games. See how we fared, how that compares with previous Games, and what else could be done.
Bhavani Devi, the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. (Olympics.com) PREMIUM
Bhavani Devi, the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. (Olympics.com)
Updated on Sep 04, 2021 03:32 PM IST
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By Dilip D’Souza

Fencing: Bhavani Devi was the first-ever Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. She won her Round of 64 Women’s Sabre match against Tunisia’s Nadia Ben Azizi, then lost her round of 32 match against France’s Manon Brunet, who went on to win bronze.

The 36 fencing medals were shared among 13 countries. But plenty more countries entered the competition. Argentina and Azerbaijan were like India, with just one entry and no medals. But Estonia entered just 4 women who won 2 medals. That fact, and Bhavani’s opening win, hold out hope for India in this elegant sport.

Rowing: Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh were the Indian entry in the Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls event. They competed in four races altogether, finishing 11th out of 18 teams that participated.

India has sent rowers to every Olympics this century (never before) and this was the closest any Indian has come to winning a medal.

Sailing: Nethra Kumanan became the first-ever woman sailor from India to qualify for an Olympic Games this year.

Judo: Shushila Devi Likmabam, India’s only judoka in Tokyo, lost her first match (round of 32) against Eva Csernoviczki of Hungary. Indian judokas have competed at every Olympic Games since 1992. This is our record:Barcelona 1992: Sent 1 woman and 4 men. 2 reached the round of 16 and lost.Atlanta 1996: 2 women, 2 men. 2 reached the round of 16 and lost.Sydney 2000: 1 woman. She lost in the round of 16.Athens 2004: 1 man. He lost in the round of 16 (repechage).Beijing 2008: 2 women. 1 lost in the round of 32, 1 in the round of 16 (repechage).London 2012: 1 woman. She lost in the round of 32.Rio 2016: 1 man. He lost in the round of 32.Likmabam’s Tokyo performance, then, is about par for the course, for India.

And finally: India has never qualified for the Olympics in volleyball, rugby, handball and taekwondo. Again, this should be seen as Olympic opportunities galore, for India.

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Saturday, October 23, 2021