For a country with an estimated population of more than 1.37 billion, India has struggled to find the medal-winning athletes to make a mark at the Olympic Games. Owing to dismal performances at the world’s biggest stage, India deployed necessary measures to improve the facilities and nurture youngsters into future stars. Since then, the results are hard to overlook.
A watershed performance at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, where Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold after winning a shooting gold while wrestler Sushil Kumar and boxer Vijender Singh gave the Indian fans something to cheer for after winning bronze medals respectively.
Four years later, in 2012, an 83-member Indian contingent participated in the London Olympics and set a new best for the country with six medals. Then in 2016, the Rio Olympics saw 118 athletes competing for India; however, only two of them ended up bagging a medal. Wrestler Sakshi Malik and shuttler PV Sindhu salvaged the pride of India by winning a bronze and a silver respectively.
And with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics raring to go, all eyes will be on the Indian contingent at the biggest stage of the world once again. Unlike the last events, the nation looks better prepared and appears to be a much-improved showing. The fact that 11 athletes of India have qualified for 2020’s Olympics further shows how far India has come as a participating nation.
With hopes of a billion fans, for the first time in years, India seems well prepared. Although things can change in the next year, India’s preparations so far have been excellent. So if things go right, Tokyo 2020 might be the best-ever Olympics in the sporting history of India.
It is somewhat irrational to predict the number of medals India can win. However, suffice to say the possible number of medal winners and the number of disciplines India is presently equipped to mount a challenge in has increased since the Rio Olympics 2016 where things have changed. And that’s also what gives us hope a year ahead of Tokyo.