London Calling! Will the Indian Tricolor Fly High?

Expectations are riding sky high. India would be hoping to carry on from where they left off inBeijing. An 81 member squad is the largest ever sent buy the country to the Olympics, and this is the best squad one could ask for if the last 3 decades are taken into consideration. From the veterans such as Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes to the youngest archer Deepika Kumari, India has a contingent brimming with talent and potential to increase their medal tally .

The men’s archery team consisting of Rahul Banerjee, who struck gold at the Commonwealth Games, is expected to open his Olympic account this time. The women’s team would be led by the 18 year old world champion Deepika Kumari. The team expects nothing less than gold in individual and team events.

The badminton team doesn’t need any special mention. The Indian squad – comprising world number one Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta , Aswini Ponnappa , V Diju and P Kashyap – is at the peak of their performances. By current standards, a medal from the badminton court will not be a surprise.

Meanwhile, Indian boxers would be hoping to continue their power punch atLondon.Beijingbronze medalist Vijendar Singh has improved a lot over the last 4 years, and if everything goes well, we might witness yet another power packed performance from him. Mary Kom would be hoping to make her maiden Olympic outing memorable.

The most anticipated event forIndiawould undoubtedly be shooting. After Rajyavardhan Rathod shot down the Bronze inAthens(2004), our shooters improved won Gold atBeijing. While Abhinav Bindra hopes to continue his golden run, Gagan Narang would want to rewrite history with his rifle. The team under coach Sunny Thomas is capable of putting on quite a show inLondon. The two will be supported by Ronjan Sodhi and Manav Jith Singh Sadhu.

The tennis team has taken the center stage in the media over the last few weeks, not for good reason though. And, Sania Mirza’s controversial comment that she is doubtful of a good performance has made the situation even worse. The Leander Paes -Vishnuvardhan and Mahesh Bhupathi – Rohan Boppanna pairing make the men’s doubles team (two different teams will represent the country).

The decision to include Sania Mirza with Leander Paes in the mixed doubles team has triggered many queries. While Rushmi Chakravarthy joins Sania in the women’s doubles event, Somdev Dev Varman will be the lone singles player this time around. There are no real questions about the potential of these players, but this isn’t the best of times for Indian tennis. A single medal will be enough make the critics shut up.

Indian wrestling has improved a lot ever since Susheel Kumar sprang a surprise with the bronze atBeijing. The training facilities, accommodation, food, gym, trainers et al have been up to international standards. Kumar would be accompanied by Yogeshwer Dutt , Narasinh Pancham Yadav, Amit kumar and Geeth Phogath.

Indian hockey has, in the meantime, seen many ups and downs over the last one and a half decades, with inconsistency and lack of proper administration ruining the game’s reputation. The hockey giants even failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The complete cleanup process and proper administration from the part of the Sports Ministry have worked good over the last 3 years though.

The team shifted from their traditional game style to the fast European style under Australian coach Michale Nobbs. Bharath Chethri’s team has a nice blend of youth, speed, experience and talent, Shivendra Singh’s lightning fast moves from the both wings make him a very crucial part of the team. He along with Birendra Lakra and Gurbinder Singh Chandi control the game in the mid field.

The defense still remains a slight matter of concern. However, the goal post remains safe under skipper Bharath Chethri and R. Sreejesh. The opposition teams have no idea whatsoever as to how to tackle Sandeep Singh’s drag flicks.

The sudden shift in playing turf from green to blue has been a blow for most of the teams, andIndiatoo hasn’t got much match practice on the new turf and the new ball. For the world’s number 10 team, anything above the group stages will be a great achievement.

Athletics don’t seem to have changed a great deal fromBeijing. Ranjith Maheshwri in triple jump, Vikas Gauda and Krishna Poonia in discus throw are the only notable performers.

Most of the Indian athletes will have to better their personal best record, if they are to qualify for the final round.

India’s athletes still have a long way to go in the Olympics arena. A medal from athletics would be a miracle

Predictions and expectations will always come up, but there is a possibility that special, magical performances from every athlete would happen.

It is after al the Olympics. It’s all about giving 100% and on a given day, you never know performances turn up.  Come back for more.