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78-member team for Athens

July 28, 2004 22:39 IST

Yet to make an impact in the over 100-year history of the Olympics, India is sending its "best-ever" 78-member contingent to Athens for next month's mega event with the hope of clinching a few medals.

Seventy-eight of the country's top athletes have qualified in 14 disciplines. India has an outside chance of finishing on the podium in five events -- athletics, hockey, tennis, shooting and weightlifting.

Anju Bobby George (long jump), Anjali Bhagwat (shooting), Leander Paes/Mahesh Bupathi (tennis) and Karnam Malleswari (weightlifting) are some on whom the country is pinning its hopes.

The Indian Olympic Association claims that it has provided the "best-possible" training to the Olympic-bound athletes.

"No doubt, this is the best-ever contingent which will represent India and we hope that we will improve our record of medals in the Athens Olympics," IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh said on Wednesday as he released the final list of participants.

"All our efforts have been made to provide best possible training to the athletes, who have qualified for the Olympics."

India, still considered pushovers at the highest level, did have its moments of glory but they were in the last century when it won as many as eight gold medals in hockey.

But in individual events, India has hardly been able to leave any impact, with only Khashaba Digvijay Jadhav (wrestling, 1952 Helsinki), Leander Paes (tennis, 1996 Atlanta) and Karnam Malleswari (weightlifting, 2000 Sydney) winning medals, albeit all bronze, in the last 27 editions of the Games.

Norman Pritchard, an Englishman, who represented India in the 1900 Paris Olympics, gave something to the country to cheer about with silver medal wins in 200 metres dash and 200 metres hurdles.

The hockey team has also failed to regain its supremacy ever since winning the gold medal in the boycott-marred Moscow Games in 1980.

But things seem to be a little different this time.

If the recent performance of the Indians is any indication, the 28th edition promises some good news for the country.

"The latest reports on the performance of the (Indian) sportspersons gives positive signs," Randhir Singh said, referring to the country's achievement in the Manchester Commonwealth Games and Busan Asian Games, both in 2002.

India's best show in an Asian Games came in Busan when it finished seventh in a strong field with 36 medals including 11 gold, seven of it from athletics alone.

Similarly in Manchester, it finished a creditable fourth with 70 medals, including 30 gold, behind powerhouses Australia, England and Canada.

In Athens, Indian sportspersons would be competing against the best in the world in 14 disciplines -- archery, athletics, badminton, boxing, hockey, judo, rowing, shooting, swimming,

tennis, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling and yachting/sailing.

"The team will leave in batches and some sportspersons will join the contingent directly from various countries where they are undergoing strenuous training," the IOA secretary-general said.

List of Indians qualified for the Athens Olympics:

Archery --
: Sawaiyan Majhi, Satyadev Prasad, Tarundeep Rai
Women: Dola Banerjee, Sumangala Sharma, Reena Kumari

Athletics --
Men: Amritpal Singh (long jump), Binu Matthew (400m), Bahadur Singh (shot put), Vikas Gowda (discus), Anil Kumar (discus)
Women: Anju Bobby George (long jump), J J Shobha (heptathlon), Manjit Kaur (400m and 4x400m relay), Chitra Soman (400m and 4x400m relay), Neelam J Singh (discus), Seema Antil (discus), Harwant Kaur (discus), Bobby Aloysius (high jump), Soma Biswas (heptathlon), Saraswati Saha (200m), Rajwinder Kaur, K M Beenamol, S Geeta, Sagardeep Kaur/Manjit Kaur/Chitra Soman (all 4x400m relay team).

Badminton --
Men: Abhin Shyam Gupta, Nikhil Kanetkar (both Singles)
Women: Aparna Popat (singles)

Boxing --
Men: Akhil Kumar (51kg), Diwakar Prasad (54 kg), Vijender (64 kg), Jitender Kumar (81kg)

Hockey --
Devesh Chauhan, Adrian D'Souza, Dilip Tirkey, William Xalxo, Harpal Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Arjun Halappa, Viren Rasquinha, Vikram Pillay, Sandeep Singh, Gagan Ajit Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur, Dhanraj Pillay, Baleet Singh Dhillon, Adam Sinclair

Judo --
Men: Akram Shah (60kg).

Rowing --
Men: P T Paulose (single scull, mix)

Shooting --
Men: Abhinav Bindra (10m air rifle), Mansher Singh (trap), Manavjit Singh Sandhu (trap), Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (double trap), Gagan Narang (10m air rifle)
Women: Anjali Bhagwat (10m air rifle and 50m rifle 3 positions), Suma Shirur (10m air rifle), Deepali Deshpande (50m rifle 3 positions)

Swimming --
Women: Shikha Tandon (50m free style and 100m free style)

Tennis --
Men: Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi (both doubles)

Table Tennis --
Men: Sharath Kamal (singles)
Women: Mouma das (singles)

Weightlifting --
Women: Kunjarani Devi (48kg), Sanamacha Chanu (53 kg), Prathima Kumari (63 kg), K Malleswari (63 kg)

Wrestling --
Men: Yogeshwar Dutt (55 kg), Sushil Kumar (60kg), Ramesh Kumar (66kg), Sujeet Maan (74 kg), Anuj Kumar 84 kg), Palwinder Singh Cheema (120 kg) (all free styles), Mukesh Khatri (55 kg Greco-Roman)

Yachting/Sailing --
Men: Manav Shroff, Sumeet Patel (both double handed dinghy, 49er)

Youth Camp --
Umamaheswari Devi (athletics), Ronak Pandit (shooting).

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