Sindhu's path to greatness, Srikanth's resurgence & Lakshya's emergence take centre stage
7 medals at Tokyo Olympics proved India's best-ever show
New Delhi: PV Sindhu's legend grew with a second Olympic medal, Kidambi Srikanth regained his touch with a historic World championship silver and Lakshya Sen continued to dazzle but the listless performance in team events was a significant low for Indian badminton. Despite the disappointment in shooting, a total of 7 medals at the Tokyo Olympics proved to be India's best-ever show at the Games in a topsy-turvy year,.
The COVID-19 pandemic expectedly disrupted the international calender with many events either cancelled or rescheduled but Indian shuttlers grabbed the opportunities even though a title win eluded them.
If Rio Olympics silver-medallist Sindhu led from the front with a bronze medal at Tokyo and a silver at the season-ending World Tour Final, Srikanth and Lakshya dished out a year-end special, scooping a silver and bronze respectively at the World Championships.
It was a moment to rejoice as for the first time, two Indian men returned with medals from one edition of the World Championships, a feat that was earlier achieved by Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in women's singles at the 2017 Glasgow event.
However, neither Sindhu nor Srikanth or Lakshya, who had reached the finals at Dutch Open, could go the full distance as India's title draught continued. The fact that BWF decided to squeeze nine tournaments into 12 weeks after the resumption of the international circuit also didn't help things as many players were left injured.
The former world no.1 Saina Nehwal returned to the circuit at Uber Cup but it was cut short due to multiple injuries, including a groin issue. While the singles players did well, India cut a sorry figure at team events -- Sudirman Cup and Thomas and Uber Cup Finals.
With star players missing, India made an early exit from the Sudirman Cup after wining just one match out of three. The men's team and women's teams produced a slightly better show at Thomas and Uber Cup Final, finishing at the quarterfinal stage.
The only bright spot was that the likes of Aditi Bhatt, Malvika Bansod, the men's doubles pair of Dhruv Kapila and MR Arjun, Gayatri Gopichand, Rutuporna Panda, Tanisha Crasto, Tasneem Mir and Theresa Jolly hugely benefitted from the campaign. Other upcoming shuttlers such as Aman Farogh Sanjay, Revati Devasthale, Priyanshu Rajawat also gave hope to Indian badminton by registering international wins in the year goneby.
Despite the disappointment in shooting, a total of 7 medals at the Tokyo Olympics proved to be India's best-ever show at the Games.
In Tokyo, weightlifter Mirabai Chanu gave India a perfect start by clinching the 1st medal for the country at the 2020 Games. She lifted a total of 202 kg, with 87 kg in the Snatch and 115 kg in the Clean & Jerk to win silver. With that, she buried her demons of the 2016 Rio Olympics where Chanu had failed to log a single legitimate lift.
Aditi Ashok puts Indian women's golf on the world map. Not many gave her a fighting chance but Aditi Ashok made the world sit up and take notice of Indian women's golf at the Tokyo Games. She almost created history but missed a podium finish by the narrowest of margins and finished 4th. The 23-year-old came into the Games ranked 200th and missed bronze by just 1 stroke.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya wins silver in debut Olympic games when Bajrang Punia was being tagged as the favourite to bag a gold medal but he had to settle for a bronze. Ravi Kumar Dahiya though give India a reason to celebrate as he clinched silver in 57kg freestyle wrestling in what was his debut Olympic Games. With that, he became the 5th Indian wrestler to finish on the Olympic podium.
PV Sindhu becomes a double Olympic medallist by winning her bronze medal match and also the first female Indian athlete to win 2 Olympic medals. She had won silver at the Rio Games in 2016.
Probably the most satisfying part about the Tokyo Olympics was the way India's hockey teams played. While the men's team ended a 41-year-long medal wait by clinching bronze, the women's team reached the semi-finals, which was their best-ever finish at the games. They, however, went down fighting to Great Britain in the bronze medal match.
The most iconic moment of the Games came in India's last discipline when Neeraj Chopra created history by clinching the gold medal in Javelin with a throw of 87.58m. It was not only India's 1st individual Olympic medal after Abhinav Bindra's gold in 2008 but was independent India's first-ever track and field Olympic medal. (Agencies)