Indian Medal Hopes in the London Olympics 2012
Archery has the best chances to fetch India a medal. In the three World Cup events this year, Indian Men bagged two silvers and the Women bagged a Silver and a Gold. The Men’s team is ranked no. 5 in the World, while the Women’s team is ranked second. Archer Deepika Kumari, who won the gold in one of the World Cup events, is highest ranked Archer right now. Even last year, Indians bagged several medals in World Cup events. It’s notable that only recurve Archery is included in Olympics.
Shooting is getting most media coverage this time, due to Bindra’s feat in last Olympics. It’s important to note that the only Indian to be ranked within top 10 in ISSF’s ranking list is Ronjan Sodhi (#10 in Double Trap), no other shooter is in Men’s or Women’s top ten list. However, the competition is intense and performance on the day matters more than consistency in case of shooting. For example, Bindra didn’t get a Gold in WC’s a year before or after he hit the top position in the Olympics 2008, even fellow Gagan Narang had higher ranking and more consistency than what he had. Same way, India did bag a gold and a bronze in 2010 ISSF World Cup despite not having anyone in the top ten ranking. So, we can cross our fingers and wait for the day.
India has a medal hope in Badminton too. Saina is currently ranked 5th and she was the winner of last 4 out of 7 tournaments played. Kashyap (ranked #21), the other contender, doesn’t have ranking to back him, but he reached semis in a couple of recent tournaments. Indian doubles pairs though don’t have any recent glory (last one goes back to 2011 World Championship).
Boxing is another medal hope. In last men’s world cup (2011), India bagged a solitary bronze (Vikas Yadav), as in the last Olympics. But a few others also came close. Devendro Singh, Manoj Kumar and Jai Bhagwan reached QF while Dinesh lost to the eventual Champion. In women’s section though, only Mary Kom has a chance although in the 2012 World Cup she lost in the QF. It’s notable the women’s boxing has only three categories in this Olympics.
What could have been a certain medal, now looks more uncertain in Tennis. The legendary partnership of Bhupathi-Paes is broken but a third rising star in form of Bopanna (ranked #13) can bring a medal for India partnering Bhupathi (ranked #15). In mixed doubles, in form Paes (ranked #5) is partnering Sania Mirza (ranked #18) – who recently had a lot of success with her mixed doubles partner Bhupathi. However chances in Men’s singles and Women’s doubles are slim. This time, matches will be played in Grass which is not the favorite turf for Indians as per the recent performances. There are a couple more factors – a lot of pairs appear in the Olympics who are not traditional doubles player – such as Roger Federar in Olympics 2008. They are a genuine threat to established doubles pairs.
India bagged a bronze in 2008 Olympics when Sushil Kumar had the bronze medal from wrestling. However, the chances of a medal from wrestling this time is not so bright. No Indians finished in top six in their individual categories in World Championship Wrestling 2011. However, in Women’s wrestling, Geeta narrowly lost in QF of 55kg category can can be considered as a medal hope. If you go a year back, Sushil won gold in the same tournament in 66kg category.
Even though a lot of media focus is on Indian hockey and they actually are playing well at times, I don’t expect them to have a podium finish. I will be very happy if Indian hockey team makes through Champions’ League, i.e. finishes within top six. They are currently ranked #10 and a finish within top 6 should be a realistic success story.
In many other events, Indians will just add the numbers and diversity. I don’t expect a medal from Weightlifting, Athletics, Table Tennis, Rowing or Judo. Among these, woman weightlifter Chanu finished 7th in World Cup but the gap between her and the bronze medalist was significant.
From 1984, India have never performed worse than its last outing. If they can maintain that trend, they should at least get a gold and some more medals. Given India’s population, it might appear that we are under-performing but I believe it has a regional effect. India’s neighbors are doing equally poorly as that of India. So, chances of a rapid recovery is slim, unless we build up some sports infrastructure at home.