In its over 100 years of participation at the Olympic Games, India has won a total of 28 medals. This is as many medals as the American swimmer Michael Phelps won single-handedly across four Olympics, from 2004 to 2016. Will 2020 bring new riches for Indian athletes? Here’s a look at India’s top medal prospects at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
PV Sindhu (Badminton)
The 24-year-old won the silver medal at the 2016 Olympics and also became the first Indian to clinch the World Championships in 2019. Currently ranked sixth on the BWF rankings list, Sindhu is eligible for the direct qualification quota of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She is also India’s best bet for a badminton medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Bajrang Punia (Wrestling, 65kg category)
Among the top three wrestlers in the world in his category, Punia, who turns 26 this year, has bagged medals in almost all the competitions (Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships, World Championships) he has participated in. At the Tokyo Olympics, he will face stiff competition from Japan’s Takuto Otoguro and USA’s Yianni Diakomihalis — both of whom he lost to in 2019.
Manu Bhaker and Saurabh Chaudhary (Shooting, mixed category)
The pair struck gold at several World-level events this past season. Manu, 18, is in her first year of college, while Saurabh, a year younger to her partner, belongs to a small-time agricultural family from the state of Uttar Pradesh. The mixed shooting event will be making its debut at the Tokyo Olympics, and Manu and Saurabh will be part of the a Indian shooting contingent.
Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting, 49kg category)
A former World Championships gold medal winner, Mirabai, 25, bettered her own national record at the National Weightlifting Championships in 2020. Having recovered fully from a crippling back injury, Chanu is currently ranked fourth in the world, behind the Chinese duo of Huihua Jiang and Zhihui Hou, and Korean Ri Song Gum.
Neeraj Chopra (Javelin)
An Olympics track-and-field medal for India may soon become a reality in Tokyo. Neeraj is currently ninth in the IAAF world rankings and, unless he has a horrible day at the office, is likely to make the 12-man final in Tokyo. The 22-year-old from Panipat, Haryana already has to his name gold medals at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, and also has age on his side.