September 26, 2022


The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will function India’s greatest, and arguably their strongest contingent ever on the Video games. Whereas the shooters are anticipated to herald probably the most variety of medals, there are sturdy contenders throughout many different disciplines. Listed below are our picks:

1. Saurabh Chaudhary

Occasion: 10m Air Pistol Particular person

Date: July 24

Positives

Chaudhary has been extremely constant over the previous two years — medalling in all however one competitors he is taken half in. He is completed on the rostrum in every of the 5 World Cups he is taken half in — profitable two golds (New Delhi 2019, Munich 2019), one silver (New Delhi 2021), and two bronzes (Rio de Janeiro 2019, Osijek 2021). What stands out for the 19-year-old is that he is all the time made the finals comfortably — even his lowest rating in qualification since making his senior debut has been 581 (at Osijek 2021), which might possible be sufficient to make the ultimate in Tokyo.

Current file

Choudhary’s most up-to-date competitors was the World Cup in Osijek, Croatia. Though he struggled (by his requirements) in qualification, he nonetheless shot a rating of 581, which might have certified him in fourth place on the Rio Olympics. He ultimately completed with a bronze.

Weak point

There is no apparent weak spot. Maybe the one issue that might work in opposition to him can be his inexperience within the greatest stage — Choudhary has by no means taken half in a World Championship.

Key opponents

Iran’s Javad Fouroughi has develop into a powerful contender for a medal in Tokyo. He’s in prime type, having overwhelmed Choudhary in each the World Cups (New Delhi and Osijek) the 2 have competed on this 12 months.

China’s Wei Pang, three-time Olympic finalist and two-time Olympic medallist, has additionally not competed in any worldwide match not too long ago however is among the many medal contenders in Tokyo.


2. Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker

Occasion: 10m Air Pistol Combined Group

Date: July 27

Positives

Much more dominant than Chaudhary within the particular person 10m pistol occasion is his pairing with Manu Bhaker within the combined staff occasion. The pair has competed collectively six instances in World Cups and completed on the rostrum every time, profitable 5 of the competitions outright. Most combined groups competing on the World Cup often have one shooter who is much stronger than the opposite. Each Chaudhary and Bhaker are extremely sturdy shooters able to profitable the person competitions outright themselves.

Current file

By their excessive requirements, Chaudhary and Bhaker suffered an upset of types of their most up-to-date match — the World Cup in Osijek. They *solely* gained a silver, shedding to the Russian pair of Artem Chernousov and Vitalina Batsarashkina.

Weak point

Each shooters are sturdy individually however they are going to be competing beneath immense stress of their first Olympics. Bhaker has generally struggled beneath stress and rather a lot may rely on how Chaudhary shoulders the additional burden.

Key opponents

The Russian pair of Artem Chernousov and Vitalina Batsarashkina, who handed the Indians their first defeat on the Osijek World Cup, would be the key threats in Tokyo.


3. Divyansh Panwar and Elavenil Valarivan

Occasion: 10m Air Rifle Combined Group

Date: July 27

Positives

Though they’ve solely paired collectively twice — within the 2021 New Delhi World Cup, the place they gained gold, and at this 12 months’s Osijek World Cup, the place they completed in sixth place — Elavenil Valarivan and Divyansh Panwar are amongst India’s greatest hopes for a rifle medal. The 2 are one of the best Indian particular person shooters within the 10m air rifle class at current and are presently ranked World No. 1 of their particular person disciplines. Panwar has loads of expertise on the rostrum over the previous two years — profitable two World Cup gold medals and a World Cup bronze in partnership with Anjum Moudgil in 2019.

Current file

Though they gained gold in a depleted area on the New Delhi World Cup, Panwar and Valarivan faltered on the Osijek World Cup, the place they had been eradicated within the second stage of qualification (QF) after uncharacteristically low scores by Panwar.

Weak point

Though each are ranked excessive, their current type has been detached. Valarivan has usually struggled in large occasions. Though she was averaging 631 during the last two years, she shot a subpar 626.7 and 625.3 within the particular person occasions at residence on the 2021 and 2019 New Delhi World Cups. Panwar, considered one of India’s best-rated rifle shooters, may discover himself having to shoulder a better proportion of the burden.

Key opponents

The Hungarian pair of Istvan Peni and Eszter Meszaros have been in sturdy type in current months, counting amongst their wins a gold medal at Osijek. Whereas Peni has repeatedly positioned on the rostrum during the last two years, he is discovered a superb accomplice within the 19-year-old Meszaros, who gained her first particular person World Cup title in Osijek.


4. Yashaswini Deswal and Abhishek Verma

Occasion: 10m Air Pistol Combined Group

Date: July 27

Positives

Though they’ve been overshadowed by Chaudhary and Bhaker, the pair of Deswal and Verma are real medal contenders within the combined staff occasion, having gained a silver and bronze medal in three appearances on the World Cup. On paper, Verma and Deswal are even stronger prospects than Chaudhary and Bhaker, being ranked World No. 1 within the males’s and ladies’s 10m pistol particular person classes.

Current file

The pair gained a bronze earlier this 12 months on the New Delhi World Cup. At the latest competitors in Osijek, although, the duo completed exterior the rostrum for the primary time, shedding the bronze-medal playoff match to Iran.

Weak point

Deswal’s qualification scores are on the decrease finish. If the duo are to make it previous the second qualification spherical and into the final 4, rather a lot would journey on Deswal’s performances.

Key opponents

Javad Foroughi’s type this 12 months means that the Iranian combined staff pair of him and Golnoush Sebghatollahi might be preventing for a spot within the final 4. Compatriots Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker in addition to the Russian pair of Artem Chernousov and Vitalina Batsarashkina might be obstacles to be overcome as nicely.


5. Neeraj Chopra

Occasion: Males’s javelin throw

Date: Qualification on August 4 | Closing on August 7

Positives

Though he missed most of 2019 as a result of damage, Chopra has been extremely constant within the Olympic 12 months, routinely throwing the javelin across the 85m mark. In a sport the place performances can differ wildly, that may be a essential edge. Something round that mark would possible qualify him for the ultimate. On the day of the ultimate, if he throws something round or higher than his private better of 88.07m, Chopra stands an excellent likelihood of constructing the rostrum.

Current file

Chopra’s final competitors previous to the Olympics was the Kuortane Video games in Finland, the place he completed in third place with a powerful effort of 86.79m, ending forward of reigning world champion Anderson Peters.

Weak point

Whereas Chopra’s power has been consistency in a area not recognized for it, he must be at his highest if others carry out to their potential too. Eleven of the athletes who’ve certified for Tokyo have a greater private greatest than the Indian. Amongst athletes this 12 months, Chopra presently has the fourth-best throw.

Key opponents

Germany’s Johannes Vetter is the gold medal favorite this 12 months with a season’s better of 96.29m. The remainder of the rostrum, although, will see a tricky struggle between Chopra, former Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott (SB 89.12m) and Marcin Krukowski of Poland (SB 89.55m).


6. Mirabai Chanu

Occasion: Ladies’s weightlifting (49kg)

Date: July 24

Positives

Mirabai Chanu will nearly actually be the primary Indian weightlifter since Karnam Malleswari (in 2000) to win an Olympic medal. She’s a former World Champion and presently the fourth-ranked weightlifter in her division. Nonetheless, two of these ranked above her is not going to be competing, that means she is going to simply be the second-best lifter in her class in Tokyo. Mirabai additionally holds the clear and jerk world file in her class, which implies that even when she has a poor begin within the snatch occasion, she is going to nonetheless have the ability to make up misplaced floor within the clear and jerk section.

Current file

Mirabai final competed on the 2021 Asian Championships in Tashkent, the place she lifted a private greatest and new nationwide file of 205kg. She additionally set a brand new world file of 119kg within the clear and jerk section.

Weak point

In comparison with her clear and jerk carry, which is one of the best on this planet, Mirabai has a comparatively common snatch carry (PB 88kg). She additionally tends to overlook numerous lifts at that weight, which places numerous stress on her. At Tokyo, rather a lot would journey on the type of begin she will get within the snatch occasion.

Key opponents

The gold medal favorite within the girls’s 49kg division might be China’s Hou Zhihui, who has lifted 213kg this season – eight kilograms greater than Mirabai. Ought to Mirabai have a powerful set of lifts within the snatch, she may very nicely threaten the Chinese language. Nonetheless, she also needs to be cautious of the USA’s Jourdan Delacruz, who has a private better of 200kg within the 49kg division. Delacruz, although, is able to extra — she has earlier lifted 207kg whereas competing within the 55kg division.


7. Ravi Dahiya

Occasion: Males’s freestyle wrestling (57kg)

Date: R-16 to SF on August 4 | Repechage and medal match on August 5

Positives

Though he is gained a bronze medal on the World Championships and is a two-time Asian Champion, Ravi Dahiya remains to be flying beneath the radar, overshadowed by Bajrang Punia. Dahiya has all of Punia’s benefits — key being top-of-the-line endurance ranges within the division. He’s additionally thought-about some of the technically-gifted wrestlers in his class, which permits him to win in a number of methods. Seeded fourth in Tokyo, he may even keep away from gold medal favorite Zaur Uguev (to whom he misplaced on the 2019 World Championships) till the finals.

Current file

Dahiya competed most not too long ago on the Asian Championships, the place he gained his second consecutive continental medal. Nonetheless, not one of the wrestlers he competed in opposition to in that match might be competing in Tokyo.

Weak point

Though Dahiya is likely one of the most well-rounded wrestlers within the division, it stays to be seen how he performs at a high-pressure match just like the Olympics.

Key opponents

At the very least on type and file, Dahiya ought to make the finals in Tokyo. His seeding means he’ll keep away from Russia’s Zaur Uguev till the finals. Dahiya additionally has a profitable file in opposition to 5 of the 16 contenders for a medal in Tokyo and a probable semi-final opponent — top-ranked Stevan Micic — has a loss to Kazakhstan’s Nurislam Sanayev — a wrestler Dahiya has overwhelmed twice earlier than.


8. Bajrang Punia

Occasion: Males’s freestyle wrestling (65kg)

Date: R-16 to SF on August 6 | Repechage and medal match on August 7

Positives

Bajrang has been some of the profitable wrestlers on this Olympic cycle with two Worlds medals and an Asian Video games title during the last 4 years. His stress and stamina make him a serious menace to any opponent. His constant performances have earned him the second-seeded place in Tokyo, the place he’ll keep away from World Champion Ghadzimurad Rashidov till the ultimate.

Current file

Bajrang competed most not too long ago on the Ali Aliev match in Russia final month, the place he suffered a knee damage whereas trailing 0-4 within the semifinal. Bajrang, although, says he has recovered from the damage and has resumed coaching.

Weak point

Bajrang’s relentless stress tires lesser opponents but additionally leaves him susceptible to fast opponents with adequate conditioning. His ahead momentum usually leaves his legs susceptible, one thing that opponents have capitalised on previously.

Key opponents

Whereas he has averted each Russia’s Ghadzimurad Rashidov and the mercurial Ismael Muszukajev of Hungary, the boys’s 65kg class remains to be stacked with expertise. Bajrang has already misplaced twice to Japanese expertise Takuto Otoguro and he’ll hope to keep away from him within the draw as nicely.


9. Vinesh Phogat

Occasion: Ladies’s freestyle wrestling (53kg)

Date: R-16 to SF on August 5 | Repechage and medal match on August 6

Positives

Phogat has been extremely constant over the previous few years. She is unbeaten this 12 months with gold medals on the Rome Rating sequence, the Asian Championships and the Poland Open. The pullout of world champion Pak Yong Mi has boosted her prospects as has the truth that she is the highest seed in Tokyo — doubtlessly avoiding a match in opposition to her nemesis Mayu Mukaida till the ultimate.

Current file

Phogat final competed within the Poland Open, the place she beat Worlds bronze medallist Ekaterina Poleschuk of Russia and solely conceded two factors over three matches.

Weak point

Phogat is in wonderful type and has ironed out most of her weaknesses. Nonetheless, she has admitted going through points together with her restoration from her weight minimize in her early matches and can hope she would not run into a powerful opponent early on.

Key opponents

As the highest seed, Vinesh might be favoured to no less than make the ultimate in Tokyo, the place her possible opponent, Japan’s Mayu Mukaida, holds the benefit with a 3-0 file in opposition to the Indian. Phogat may face a tough match in a possible semifinal in opposition to China’s Pang Qianyu, who holds a 2-2 file in opposition to the Indian. Phogat, although, has the latest win — within the 2019 Asian Championships.


10. PV Sindhu

Occasion: Badminton (Ladies’s singles)

Date: Qualification rounds begin on July 24

Positives

Though she hasn’t had the best type during the last couple of years, PV Sindhu gained the title that mattered — the 2019 World Championships. Sindhu is a giant match participant and her path to a medal, probably a gold, received simpler with reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin having to drag out as a result of damage.

Current file

The badminton calendar has been plagued because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with few tournaments being held this 12 months. Sindhu although has proven indicators of discovering some type in 2021, reaching the ultimate of the Swiss Open and beating former World No.1 Akane Yamaguchi to achieve the semifinals on the All England Open.

Weak point

Sindhu would not have numerous match apply going into the Olympics and doubtlessly has a tough quarterfinal match in opposition to Japan’s Yamaguchi. Regardless of holding an 11-7 file, Sindhu has misplaced a good variety of instances to the Japanese.

Key opponents

Sindhu ought to advance from the group stage simply, and can possible face Mia Blitchfeldt – an opponent she has a 4-1 file in opposition to. A difficult match in opposition to Yamaguchi within the quarters could be adopted by a good harder one in opposition to Tai Tzu Ying, who has a 13-5 file in opposition to the Indian.


11. Amit Panghal

Occasion: Boxing (Males’s 52kg flyweight)

Date: Qualification rounds begin on July 26

Positives

Panghal is the highest seed in Tokyo, which might enhance his possibilities of a medal for the reason that prime eight seeds is not going to meet till the quarterfinals — primarily a medal bout. The Indian is probably the quickest boxer in his weight class, which makes up for his lack of attain. He is additionally in wonderful contact coming off a powerful efficiency within the Asian Championships, the place he misplaced a really shut bout to the reigning Olympic flyweight champion Shakhobidin Zoirov.

Current file

Panghal final fought on the Asian Championships, the place he beat Worlds bronze medallist Saken Bibossinov by a large resolution. He nevertheless misplaced a really tight 3-2 resolution within the ultimate to World and Olympic champion Zoirov.

Weak point

Panghal is mostly a sluggish starter and sometimes finds himself having to play catch up after dropping the primary spherical. He generally falls into the lure of failing to throw sufficient punches — which might value him particularly if he comes up in opposition to a powerful starter.

Key opponents

As the highest seed, Panghal ought to keep away from most difficult opponents early on. Nonetheless, the character of the draw is not going to be recognized till nearer to the competitors. Panghal’s key rivals are prone to be World Bronze medallist Bilal Benama of France, Hu Jianguan of China — to whom he misplaced within the 2020 Olympic qualifiers, and the extremely spectacular youth world champion Thitisan Panmod of Thailand.



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