In less than a year’s time, all eyes will be on Tokyo, which will be hosting the world’s grandest sporting event, the Olympics. With the countdown clock ticking for the quadrennial sporting extravaganza, Indians are once again weaving big dreams and expectations around our athletes who are raring to raise our glory flag at the world’s grandest sporting stage. On a closer look, only 11 Indian athletes have so far qualified for Tokyo 2020, where India will be expectedly aiming to send over 100 athletes as the part of the contingent.
So far, with 28 medals in 31 editions of the summer games, the Indian contingent has set sights on higher goals. We are harbouring a collective attitude of optimism and striving to enhance our medal haul. A glimpse of such optimism could be seen in the speech of our former Sports Minister and Olympics silver medallist shooter Col Rajyavardhan Rathore, who in his remarks at the Lok Sabha mentioned that India should aim to take its medal tally to 100 by the 2032 summer games.
So far, the London Olympics in 2012 has proven to be India’s best show at the Games with our athletes raking up six medals. However, the hopes of excelling from that position were only battered with just two medals coming up after four years of wait. Here’s a look at the athletes and their performances who have qualified for Tokyo Olympics.
Although the Indian men recurve archers couldn’t make it to the Rio 2016 Games, they staged an enthralling performance at the Archery World Championships 2019 in June to seal the berth at the Olympics 2020. The trio comprising Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai, and Praveen Jadhav broke into the Quarterfinals of the tournament which earned them the berth at Tokyo after a 5-1 win over Norway and 5-3 over Canada.
There was no stopping the trio as they went on to reach the final of the World Archery Championships for the first time since 2005 after they shocked the Netherlands in the semifinals. Against the Dutch team, they staged a comeback after trailing and won 29-28 in the shoot-off for an overall score of 5-4. In the final, they lost to China 2-6 yet returned with a silver medal in the competition.
This was also the second time ever that the men’s recurve team reached the World Championships final. Further, the men’s team, who had slumped to number 17 in rankings from being number one in May 2011, had also surprised everyone by sealing the Olympic quota place ahead of the fancied women’s team.
Indian men’s recurve archery trio: Atanu Das, Praveen Jadhav & Tarundeep Rai
Indian women’s recurve archery team, on the other hand, failed to qualify for the 2020 Olympics at the World Championship. But Deepika Kumari and co. will get another shot at qualification in November in the Asian Continental Qualification Tournament and again at the Olympic Qualifiers event in June 2020.
20 km Race Walking
In March, national record holder Kolothum Thodi Irfan became the first Indian from athletics to qualify for the 2020 Olympics after he finished fourth in the 20 km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan.
The 29-year-old clocked 1 hour 20 minutes and 57 seconds to better the Tokyo Olympics qualification standard of 1 hour 21 minutes. He is so far the only Indian from athletics to have qualified for 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Irfan, who has a personal best as well as a national record of 1:20:21 also qualified for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar as he bettered the qualifying mark of 1:22:30.
India’s shooting prowess came to the fore after Rathore won the silver medal in the double trap at the 2004 Athens Olympics. The performance was further complemented when Abhinav Bindra won the first-ever and the only individual gold medal at the 2008 Games. Vijay Kumar and Gagan Narang won silver and bronze respectively in London 2012. Following their footsteps, a fresh crop of Indian shooters have made India proud recently with seven individual quotas already booked for the Olympics.
10 M Air Rifle (Women’s)
Anjum Moudgil and Apurvi Chandela became the first and second Indian shooters to secure quotas at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by winning a silver and finishing fourth respectively in the women’s 10m air rifle event of the ISSF World Championship in April.
Moudgil finished second behind Korean Hana Im (251.1) and ahead of bronze-medallist Eunhea Jung (228.0), from Korea as well. She shot a total of 248.4 in the eight-women final to open the Indian senior squad’s medal account in the prestigious tournament.
While Chandela aggregated 207 to finish fourth, she still made the cut since a country could avail two Olympic quota places in this event.
10 M Air Pistol (Men’s)
In February, teenager Saurabh Chaudhary smashed the world record to win gold in the ISSF World Cup and secured India’s third Olympic quota in shooting. Appearing in his maiden senior World Cup, the 16-year-old claimed the top honours at the season-opening ISSF event. The Asian Games and Youth Olympics gold medallist ended the event with a total score of 245.
In April, Abhishek Verma won gold in the 10m Air Pistol final at the ISSF World Cup in Beijing. In doing so, he sealed a quota place for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Verma finished on the top step of the podium with 242.7 points. He displayed his class in what was only his first ISSF World Cup final.
10 M Air Rifle (Men’s)
Seventeen-year-old teenager Divyansh Singh Panwar in April secured the country’s fourth Olympic quota place in shooting by winning a silver in the ISSF World Cup in Beijing. In what was only his second senior competition, Divyansh shot a total of 249.0 to finish a creditable second position and he missed out on the gold medal by just 0.4 points.
25 m Pistol (Women’s)
Rahi Sarnobat booked an Olympic berth for India with a gold in women’s 25m pistol event at the ISSF World Cup in Munich.
In 2012, Rahi became the first Indian shooter to qualify for the 25 m pistol event at the Olympics, where she could only finish 19th. Rahi, who won a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup 2013 in Changwon, shot a total of 37 to claim the top honours.
10 M Air Pistol (Women’s)
Teenager Manu Bhaker was the last shooter to qualify for the Olympics after she narrowly missed a medal by 0.1 points in the shooting World Cup in Munich.
Despite shooting a 10.3, the best among the four shooters at the halfway stage of the final, Manu bowed out as she was overtaken by the slender margin by Anna Korakaki of Greece,
Manu had an exceptional 2018, with a gold and silver at the Youth Olympics gold at the Commonwealth Games and two gold medals at the 2018 ISSF World Cup.
As the year proceeds, more athletes are expected to qualify from India in a plethora of events that are going to be played at 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Stay tuned on this space as we will be updating the list.
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