The 2016 Olympic games will kick-start in Rio de Janerio on 5 August. In the 28th edition of the games, 10,500 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees, that includes nations like Kosovo and South Sudan who will make their debut. The contingents from these nations will compete for 306 sets of medals, in 28 Olympic sports.
India have been under achievers in the games as history would tell you. But in the previous two events India have picked up on their medal tally of single medal in 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens to three in Beijing in 2008 to six in London 2012.
For Rio 2016, India will send its largest ever Olympic contingent of 98, compared to 56 eight years ago and is aiming for a double digit medal tally at the games. An ambition that seemed beyond the realms of reality a few years ago now looks achievable, thus proving India’s growth as a sporting nation.
With less than two months for the start of the games, we take a look at every sportsperson who will represent India in Rio at the 2016 Olympics.
Four Indian archers have made it to the Rio Olympic games. Atanu Das, who is currently the top-ranked Indian in the world, was selected to represent India at the Olympics by the Archery Association of India over Mangal Champia, a four-time Archery World Cup team gold winner. Among the women, fifth-ranked Deepika Kumari is India’s big medal hope at the game in the individual event, apart from being a key member of the three-member team that includes Laxmirani Majhi and Bombayla Devi. The same team won a silver at the World Championship in August 2015.
With 19 athletes across the two gender category representing India, athletics will be the largest unit for India at the Olympics
Men – Inderjeet Singh (Shot Put), Vikas Gowda (Discus Throw), Gurmeet Singh, Baljinder Singh and Irfan Kolothum Thodi (Men’s 20 km walk), Sandeep Kumar, Manish Singh Rawat (Men’s 50 km walk), Nitender Singh Rawat, Thonakal Gopi and Kheta Ram (Marathon), Muhammad Anas (Men’s 400m race) and Ankit Sharma (Long Jump)
Women – Seema Antil (Discus Throw), Manpreet Kaur (Shot put), Lalita Babar (3000m steeplechase), Tintu Luka (Women’s 800m event), Kavita Raut (Women’s marathon), Sudha Singh, OP Jaisha (Marathon), Khushbir Kaur (20km walk), Sapna Punia (20km walk), Dutee Chand (Women’s 100m race), Srabani Nanda (Women’s 200m event).
Saina Nehwal – the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist – is once again India’s biggest hope in the sport. Debutant PV Sindhu will be the other woman shuttler to compete at Rio. In the men’s category, another debutant Kidambi Srikanth is the solitary hope. Manu Attri-Sumeet Reddy and Jwala Gutta-Ashwini Ponnappa will represent India in the men’s doubles and women’s doubles events respectively.
Indian boxing is believed to be in its darkest times. India will only have three boxers in Rio in contrast to seven men and one woman boxer in 2012. Shiva Thapa (56 kgs Bantamweight category), Manoj Kumar (64 kgs) and Vikas Krishan (75kgs) will vie for a medal at the 2016 Olympics. Mary Kom, India’s bronze-medal winning boxer from 2012 failed to qualify for the Rio games and there will be no Indian woman boxer contesting in Brazil.
From failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijung Olympics to going into the 2016 games on the back of a silver medal in the Champions trophy, the Indian men’s hockey team are on the up. A podium finish in Brazil is not unthinkable for Roelant Oltmans’ seventh-ranked side led by Sardar Singh, and that shows Indian hockey has come a long way.
On the other hand, making the Olympics after a gap of 36 years has already ensured the Indian women’s hockey team of a place in history. The Ritu Rani-led side aren’t expected to win a medal, but it will be exciting to see how far they go.
Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics in three apparatus and all-round events. Dipa who has been in the sport for over a decade will be seen as a dark horse for a medal.
Avatar Singh, ranked 79th in the world racked up a series of consistent performances to grab an Olympic berth in 2016. Competing in the 90 kgs weight category, Avatar will be India’s only judoka in Brazil.
Dattu Bhokanal qualified in men’s single sculls event after grabbing a silver medal in the FISA Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifier. Bhokanal who also has a Asian Championship silver to his name, will hope to bring glory to his country. Bhokanal is India’s solitary rower at the games.
With a contingent of 12, India’s hopes of claiming a double-digit medal tally in Rio will rest a lot of how the shooters perform. Jeetu Rai (50 m Air Pistol) – Commonwealth and Asian games gold medalist – is one of India’s best bets for a medal across all sports. Ganag Narang (10 m Air rifle) – who opened India’s medal tally in 2012 – along with Abhinav Bindra (10 m Air rifle) are the other shooters to keep an eye on. Other men shooters to represent India in Rio will be: Gurpreet Singh (26 m Rapid fire pistol), Prakash Nanjappa (50 m pistol), Chain Singh (50 m Rifle Positions), Mairaj Ahmed Khan (Shotgun), Manvanjit Singh Sandhu and Kynan Chenai (Trap Shooting).
Among the women, Heena Sandhu (10 m Air Pistol), Ayonika Paul and Apurvi Chandela (10 m Air Rifle) will carry India’s hopes at the 2016 Olympics.
Mouma Das and Manika Batra, two Indian women table tennis players have made the cut for the Rio games in August. In the men’s category, India will have Soumyajit Ghosh and Achanta Sharath Kamal fighting for a medal in Brazil.
After an intervention from the All India Tennis Association, Leander Paes will represent India in the men’s doubles category with Rohan Bopanna. Bopanna will also team up with Sania Mirza in the Mixed doubles category. In the women’s doubles category, Sania Mirza will partner 22-year-old Prarthana Thombare.
Having earned two Olympic quotas, thanks to the performance Asian Weightlifting Championship in Uzbekistan earlier this year, India conducted selection trials in Patiala to select its two best possible candidates in the men’s and the women’s category.
Sivalingam Sathish Kumar (Men’s 77kg category), a 2014 Commonwealth games gold medalist and Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (Women’s 48kg category), India’s national record holder with a lift of 192 kgs, are believed to be India’s best candidates at the Olympics.
Wrestling was subject to maximum controversies prior to the build up to the 2016 Olympics in India. The tussle for an Olympic berth between Narsingh Yadav and double Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar had to be resolved in court. Babita Kumari, who was suspended by the Wrestling Federation of India for forfeiting her bout at a qualifying event, was pardoned later and will compete at Rio.
Wrestling is another sport where India will bank on to get a medal. Here is full list of the wrestlers to represent India at the Rio Olympics.
Narsingh Yadav (74 kg weight category)
Yogeshwar Dutt (65 kg Free style category)
Hardeep Singh (96 kg Greco-Roman category)
Sandeep Tomar (57 kg category)
Ravinder Khatri (85 kg category)
Babita Kumari (53 kg category)
Vinesh Phogat (48 kg category)
Sakshi malik (58 kg category)