While a billion hearts would pray for all the participants to do well, all eyes would be set on the duo of Deepika Kumari/Atanu Das, the four shooters and Mirabai Chanu to open India’s medals count.
Raj Kishore Mishra, former joint secretary at the sports ministry, previews India’s chances of medals on Day 1 and 2 of the Tokyo Olympics.
The wait is finally over. Still, when over 11,000 athletes march past the giant, state of the art, 68,000-capacity but empty National Stadium in Tokyo at 8 pm local time (4.30 pm IST) on Friday, it will be a stark reminder of the times we are living in.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already cast its dark shadows on the Games and the organisers, including IOC President Thomas Bach have to brace themselves up to spend what he himself describes as ‘sleepless nights’ for the next fortnight.
It surely is going to be an Olympics like none before.
Sporting action, though, has already begun even before the curtains were raised — in the form of baseball/soft ball and football matches having started two days earlier.
From India’s perspective, competitions begin on the 23rd itself in the form of archery but pick up momentum the following day involving archery, badminton, boxing, hockey, judo, rowing, shooting, table tennis and weightlifting.
A clutch of medals would also be on offer by the end of the second day.
This article seeks to offer not only a preview of what’s on offer but also examines India’s medal prospects in the first two days.
World number one Deepika Kumari and the men’s team comprising 3-time Olympian Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das and Pravin Jadhav take to their bows and arrows on the opening day itself at 5.30 am and 9.30 am respectively in the women’s and men’s ranking rounds which would determine their seeding, in a field of 64 each, for the rest of the competition.
Deepika and hubby Atanu may have shone in the Archery World Cup in Paris just a couple of weeks earlier, but this amounts to nothing, except for confidence, as far as the Olympics are concerned.
A good performance on day one would not only pave the way for possible medals in the individual category but also in men’s team and mixed team categories.
In fact, the first medals — in mixed team — would be decided on the 24th and an entire nation’s attention would be on the celebrated husband-wife duo should their combined scores on day one put them in the top-16 bracket.
Look for action at 6 am and again at 10.45 am on day two.
The other medal prospects on day two involve shooting — India’s best bet in these Games — and weightlifting.
In shooting, Elavenil Valarivan and Apurvi Chandela in 10m Air Rifle take to the range at 5am while the men’s duo of Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma do so at 9.30 am at the qualification stages.
The finals involving the top 8 in both the events will take place at 10.15 am and 12 pm respectively.
All four have won multiple international medals, including in World Cups, and are capable of hitting the bull’s eye on their day.
Saurabh, 19 years old, remains India’s best hope for a podium finish.
In women’s weightlifting, Mirabai Chanu in 49 kg takes the floor at 6.20 am in group B.
She remains another big hope for the country having created a world record recently in clean and jerk.
Should she match her Chinese rivals in snatch, Chanu can certainly clinch a medal for India.
Look out for the finals starting from 10.20 am on day two.
Other than the above three sports in which medals would be decided, day two action could be seen in badminton where the doubles duo of Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty would take on the third seeds from Chinese Taipei in the group stage while B Sai Praneeth would square up against Misha Zilberman of Israel in his group.
Boxing would feature Lovelina Borgohain in women’s welterweight (7.30 am) round of 32 while the men, Vikash Krishan, a strong medal contender in the same weight category and Satish Kumar in super heavy weight would spar with their opponents at 7.30 am and 1.30 pm respectively in the round of 32.
In hockey, the men would be up against New Zealand at 6.30 am while the women would face Netherlands at 4.15 pm — both in Pool A.
In judo, the lone Indian participant, Sushila Devi would take to the mat at 7.30 am in the 48kg round of 32.
Rowing would feature Arjun Jat and Arvind Singh spearheading India’s challenge in the men’s lightweight double sculls heats at 7.50 am.
Day two would also witness tennis action involving Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina in the women’s doubles and Sumit Nagal in men’s singles.
Also, to be seen in action would be the Indian paddlers, Achanta Sharath Kamal and G Sathiyan among the men, along with their female counterparts, Manika Batra and Sutirtha Mukherjee.
The singles action begins at 5.30 am while the mixed doubles duo of Manika and Sharath face a formidable pair in the round of 16 starting from 7.45 am.
- Tokyo Olympics
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com
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