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Why India can still hope for medals in Rio

August 09, 2016 21:22 IST

There's still hope and plenty to play for, says Rediff.com's Aruneel Sadadekar.

IMAGE: Saina Nehwal. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

It is Day 4 at the Rio Olympics and India still doesn't have a medal to show from it.

It is not surprising that the criticism, lamenting the Indian athletes' disappointing performances at the 31st Olympiad, have already begun.

'Goal of Team India at the Olympics: Rio jao. Selfies lo. Khaali haat wapas aao. What a waste of money and opportunity,' writer Shobhaa De tweeted on Monday.

Legendary athlete Milkha Singh has criticised the Indian Olympic Association for the poor show.

India has sent its largest-ever contingent (118 athletes) to the Games with the hope of attaining double digits in the medal tally.

The athletes had expressed confidence of faring better than India did at the last Games in London, where the medal count was six -- two silver and four bronze.

Our medal hopes rest on...

Shooting

IMAGE: Jitu Rai celebrates his gold medal in the 50m pistol event at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Photograph: PTI

The performance of Indian shooters has been below par so far, senior shooters Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang unable to live up to expectations.

Bindra, India's only individual gold medalist from the Beijing Games, missed a bronze by a whisker in the 10 metre Air Rifle event.

Jitu Rai failed in the 10m Air Pistol event, but he still has a chance in his main event, the 50m Air Pistol.

Wrestling

IMAGE: Yogeshwar Dutt defeats Tajikistan's Zalimkhan Yusupov at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. Photograph: PTI

Eight wrestlers have qualified for the Games. That's the highest number of Indian athletes in one discipline.

Despite the entire focus being on Narsingh Yadav's doping saga, the Mumbai wrestler can bring home a medal only if he gets the final clearance from the World Anti Doping Agency.

The nation's hopes for gold are pinned on senior grappler and London Olympics bronze medalist Yogeshwar Dutt.

Sandeep Tomar, who will participate in the 57 kg weight category, has never returned from an international tournament without a medal. This is his tenth event, and biggest so far, so hope abound.

In the women's category, Vinesh Phogat, Babita Kumari and Sakshi Malik are all seasoned wrestlers and capable of returning with a medal.

Badminton

IMAGE: P V Sindhu. Photograph: PTI

London Olympics bronze medalist Saina Nehwal will spearhead India's challenge in badminton.

She recently won the Australian Open Super Series and on her day can beat any of her competitors in the draw.

P V Sindhu is also among the world's leading shuttlers and determined to come out of Saina's shadow in Rio.

Boxing

IMAGE: Shiva Thapa, left, lands a punch on Dzmitry Asanau of Belarus in the third place play-off in the men's bantamweight 56kg category at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha, 2015. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Despite all the chaos surrounding the AIBA's ban on the Indian Boxing Federation, three boxers made it to Rio.

Vikas Krishan, Shiva Thapa and Manoj Kumar have a realistic chance of winning a medal, though much will depend on the draw.

Golf

IMAGE: Anirban Lahiri reads a putt on the eighth green during the second round of the Web.com Tour Hotel Fitness Championship at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, in Fort Wyane, Indiana. Photograph: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Anirban Lahiri is the top ranked golfer in Asia and has a relatively easy field following the mass pullout by the world's top golfers.

He has the skill and experience to put in a medal-winning show. He just needs to maintain his form throughout the competition.

Hockey

IMAGE: India and Germany players at the end of the match in Rio. Photograph: Hockey India

Despite the heartbreaking defeat against two-time reigning champions (2008, 2012) Germany, India clearly looked the better team in their second outing in Rio.

It was just unfortunate that they conceded a goal in the last 10 seconds of the match.

If they can sort out their perennial problem of conceding a late goal, the team should qualify from the group and make it to the quarter-finals.

Once in the knock-outs, coach Roelant Oltmans's men have the firepower to reach the podium.

Tennis

IMAGE: Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna of the Indian Aces in action during the IPTL. Photograph: Getty Images.

Sania Mirza, partnering Prarthana Thombre, was ousted in the first round of the women's doubles, but she is a strong medal contender in the mixed doubles, where she will team up with Rohan Bopanna.

Gymnastics

IMAGE: Dipa Karmakar in the preliminary women's qualifications, subdivisions, at the Rio Olympics. Photograph: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Gymnast Dipa Karmakar scripted history, becoming the first Indian to make the cut in the individual vault finals in her debut Olympics after finishing eighth in the qualifying round.

Very few expected her to make it to the August 14 final. Now, the question is whether the Tripura girl can take the biggest leap of her career and clinch a medal.

Aruneel Sadadekar / Rediff.com
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