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India’s Tokyo Tally

To the two shooting medals, let’s add one in boxing. Unlike shooting or other technologically timed/calibrated sports, boxing is heavily dependent on the human factor brought in by judges ... there will always be scope for results which seem clearly wrong

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Is public memory short? I think the jury is still out on this one. People remember the strangest of things after long gaps and forget significant details within minutes. So I am probably going to offer a final assessment of how many medals the Indian sporting contingent is going to win at the Tokyo Olympics, perhaps just a week before its start in July. A lot will obviously depend on final qualification, form and, sadly in the world of sport, the injury situation. But I am happy to mention a figure now – which may well stand during the final analysis.

India’s best medal bet is, no prizes for guessing, in the shooting. The big-bore events are going to be difficult, but considering India’s standard achievements in these events, one medal in the pistol events and one in the rifle events could make the first two medals. 

As shooting events are held right at the beginning, there is always extra pressure to make a winning start. The contention being – if India wins a shooting medal, it inspires the rest of the squad to give it their all.

This, of course, is a myth. All the others representing India at the Olympics are focused on doing the best they possibly can. They can’t be waiting around to see how the shooters perform and only then decide how hard they are going to compete for a medal! 

I know some will argue about the additional motivation once a teammate has won a medal. But, really, it is much more about focusing on one’s own regimen and mental strength. 

And while I am on this topic, I might as well express my cynicism on this whole concept of “winning for someone else” such as a coach or a captain or whoever. A sportsman wins because of singular focus and extreme mastery of all the attributes required for superior performance. No one, at the highest level, performs to lose.

To the two shooting medals, let’s add one in boxing. Unlike shooting or many other technologically timed/calibrated sports, boxing is heavily dependent on the human factor brought in by judges. Till the world of boxing brings in a methodology of robotic judging, there will always be scope for results which seem clearly wrong. 

The truth is close bouts are very difficult to judge accurately. Supporters are visually and psychologically drawn to see what they want to see, from their own perspective. All things considered, I cannot go beyond one medal in boxing.  That makes it three so far.

Sadly for Badminton, the Indians have fallen back a bit. Despite her rather up and down form, yes, P. V. Sindhu does remain a medal bet. The top ten women are very closely bunched in terms of ability and Sindhu will have to work on her schedule and fitness very carefully in these intervening months. In all the rest of the competition categories, current achievements do not point to a medal. So let’s take the tally to four.

With his current form, ranking and ability, Bajrang Punia will have to be terribly unlucky not to win a medal in freestyle wrestling. Following the sport’s tradition in India, wrestlers are under the heavy influence of friends and family. It is a double-edged sword. 

Yes, it could provide comfort, but it could also be a big distraction for a high-performance athlete. I hope Bajrang is able to have the wisdom to isolate himself from the many distractions that lie in his path to Tokyo. A medal in wrestling takes us to five.

That’s it. Five medals. I’m just being a realist, not a pessimist. Could there be more? Of course. July will be time for a final assessment and I sincerely hope there will be sufficient cause for me to predict a higher number. 

To the two shooting medals, let’s add one in boxing. Unlike shooting or other technologically timed/calibrated sports, boxing is heavily dependent on the human factor brought in by judges ... there will always be scope for results which seem clearly wrong.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Charu Sharma

The author is commentator and quiz master

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