India At 2020 Tokyo Olympics
India secured 48th place on the medal tally in Tokyo Olympics. This is India’s highest ranking in over four decades; the previous best in this period was the 51st rank finish at Beijing in 2008, when India won three medals, including Abhinav Bindra’s gold. India would have actually finished 33rd, if one were to go by the total number of medals, however, ranking is done primarily based on gold medals won.
In London 2012, India had finished 57th despite winning more medals in Beijing 2008 because the table ranks participating nations by gold, silver and bronze. India has gone up by nearly 20 places in Tokyo 2020 in comparison to Rio 2016.
Seven Warriors of India:-
1 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze – India produced it’s richest-ever medal haul and the finest performance of all time at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The men and women of steel and thunder who made India proud and gave the nation something to cheer about in these dark times of deadly pandemic are Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, PV Sindhu, Lovlina Borgohain, Indian National Men Hockey Team, Ravi Dahiya, Bajrang Punia and Neeraj Chopra.
These seven champions have travelled far and wide to make that happen. This is their story, recapped.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu:-
For the first time ever, India won a medal on day one of an Olympic Games. It came from Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, who scripted a remarkable redemption from Rio 2016. Five years ago, on her Olympic debut, Mirabai stepped up for her last attempt (a 106 kg clean and jerk lift) with a bronze medal in sight but couldn’t complete what was a regulation lift for her. The journey towards mending a broken dream and heart began right away. Before the end of 2017, she was a world champion; one year later, she was a Commonwealth Games gold medalist.
Having established herself as one of the world’s top-five weightlifters in her 49 kg category, Mirabai entered Tokyo 2020 ranked third in the world, and as a genuine medal contender. She didn’t disappoint. With an 87 kg lift in the snatch, and a 115 kg lift in the clean and jerk, she made the silver medal hers bettered only by HOU Zhihui of the People’s Republic of China, who went on an Olympic record-smashing run in the final.
PV Sindhu’s bid to better, or match, her Rio 2016 silver was halted by eventual silver medalist Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the semifinals. But that did not stop India’s serial winner from adding a historic second Olympic medal to her burgeoning trophy cabinet. Shunning the disappointment of the defeat from 24 hours earlier, Sindhu secured the bronze medal with a 21-13, 21-15 win against HE Bing Jiao of the People’s Republic of China.
It gave her the distinction of becoming the only Indian female athlete to win multiple Olympic medals, and only the second Indian female or male to medal twice in individual events at the Olympic Games. Sindhu also became only the fifth female shuttler to win two Olympic singles medals. The 26-year-old has now won a combined seven medals at the Olympics and the world championships since 2013.
Lovlina Borgohain wasn’t the most spoken about name in the nine-member Indian boxing contingent that made the trip to Tokyo. Given the presence of the legendary MC Mary Kom, that wasn’t a huge surprise. But the 23-year-old welterweight boxer wasn’t short on credentials: she had medaled at the last two world championships, as well as at two Asian championships, including the most recent edition earlier this year.
At Tokyo 2020, she would emulate her and her country’s icon – joining Mary Kom as India’s second female boxer to win an Olympic medal. Borgohain earned her medal by defeating 2018 world champion Chen Nien-Chin in the quarterfinals, prevailing 4-1 on points against the pugilist from Chinese Taipei. Her bid to become India’s first Olympic finalist in boxing was only denied by 2019 world champion and eventual gold medalist Busenaz Surmeneli of Turkey.
Indian National Men Hockey Team:-
A long wait of four decades is finally over as the Indian National Hockey gets a medal at 2020 Tokyo Olympics. When India last won an Olympic medal in hockey, no member of their present team had been born, and their Australian coach Graham Reid was yet to begin his playing career.
The most successful nation in the history of the Olympic hockey competition had waited 41 years for a medal in the sport. The wait ended in sensational style. After being defeated 5-2 by eventual champions Belgium in the semifinals, India’s medal hopes rested upon their bronze playoff against Germany.
At 3-1 down with half-time approaching, the medal appeared to be eluding India again.
Four goals in the span of seven minutes, either side of the half-time hooter, and the dream was back on. The Germans medalists at each of the last four editions of the Olympic Games – pulled one back at 5-4, and won a penalty corner with less than seven seconds left on the clock. But goalkeeper PR Sreejesh stood his ground to deny an equalizer and India had their 12th Olympic medal in men’s hockey.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya:-
Speaking of dramatic turnarounds in medal clinching contests with 90 seconds left to play in his semifinal clash with Nurislam Sanayev, Ravi Kumar Dahiya trailed 2-9. The Kazakh grappler, a medalist at the last two world championships, had the Indian right where we wanted him, on the mat. Or so he thought, Dahiya, a bronze medallist himself at the 2019 world championships, in addition to holding the two latest Asian championship crowns closed the gap to 5-9, and then turned things around literally to pin Sanayev and book himself a spot in the final.
The final, against two-time world champion Zavur Uguev (ROC) proved a bridge too far. But on his Olympic debut, Dahiya had become only the second Indian wrestler to win an Olympic silver medal. He had also maintained Indian wrestling’s proud run of bringing back at least one medal from every Olympic Games since 2008.
It didn’t stop at one for the wrestling contingent, as Bajrang Punia named after the patron deity of ‘kushti’ in India got himself a piece of the prize from the mat. As the only Indian wrestler with three world championship medals to his name, Bajrang was a prime contender to be among the medals in Tokyo. But it was far from an easy ride.
After scraping through his first two contests, Bajrang was halted in his tracks by Azerbaijan’s Haji Aliyev in the semis. A Rio 2016 bronze medallist in the 57 kg event, Aliyev overpowered the Indian second seed 12-5. That set Bajrang up for a bronze medal match against Daulet Niyazbekov, the Kazakhstan grappler who he had lost to in the 2019 world championship semifinals. Far from showing any of the lingering signs of worry from the first day of competition, the 27-year-old was at his dominant best in an 8-0 victory that delivered India its sixth wrestling medal at the Olympics since 2008.
Medal number seven at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was seventh heaven for India.
Neeraj Chopra hurled the javelin into the sky and it sent a nation to the moon, as India won an athletics gold medal at the Olympics for the first time. The 23-year-old had needed barely a minute on his maiden Olympic outing to secure a spot in the final which, in itself, was a first for India in this event as he topped the qualification stage with his first throw of 86.65m.
In the final, Chopra was expected to be the closest challenger to the world-leading Johannes Vetter. But even as the fancied German slipped on a damp Tokyo evening, the Indian rookie had scaled his way to the summit.
Chopra’s first attempt in the final was marked at 87.03m, and his second flew 87.58m long. It comfortably cleared the rest of the field; his 87.03m attempt would have claimed silver on the day, as second-placed Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic landed a best throw of 86.67m. It gave India only its second individual Olympic champion after Abhinav Bindra (2008, men’s air rifle 10m), and also ended a 121-year wait for an Olympic medal of any colour in athletics.
It was India’s last act of Tokyo 2020; it made it India’s most successful Olympic Games ever.
Sources: Olympics, Times Of India