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India celebrates Tokyo Olympics glory, looks to future with hope
Tokyo Olympics

India celebrates Tokyo Olympics glory, looks to future with hope

| @indiablooms | 08 Aug 2021, 06:40 pm

New Delhi/UNI: As the curtains come down on the XXXII Olympics at Tokyo 2020, India has several reasons to celebrate and look towards the future with hope.

Beyond sending its biggest ever contingent to the Summer Games, India is also coming home with its biggest ever medals haul at a single Olympics with seven medals (1 Gold, 2 Silver and 4 Bronze), bettering the London 2012 Olympics(6 medals, 2 Silver, 4 Bronze) by one medal.

However, Tokyo 2020 (the only Olympics to be postponed due to a pandemic) goes beyond that medals for India. It was like the coming of age for Indian sports.

For a cricket crazy nation, which had struggled to win medals at the Olympics, beyond the odd bronze medal (1996, 2000), to a single silver (2004), India at the Olympics started showing signs of improvement from the 2008 Beijing Olympics where we won our first individual gold (Abhinav Bindra, shooting) and two bronze medals, making it the most successful Olympics for India till then.

Since then we have been improving our medals tally(London 6), Rio (2) and now Tokyo (7), making Rio 2016 look more like an aberration (1 Silver, 1 Bronze).
But at Tokyo, not only did India achieve its best medals tally so far, in a wide variety of sports, athletics, boxing, wrestling, hockey, sailing, table tennis and badminton, but we also made our debut in several new sports like fencing, equestrian, sailing, golf etc and made a mark in them.

Bhavani Devi won India its maiden bout in fencing, Faoud Mirza performing credibly in equestrian and Aditi Ashok missed the bronze by a whisker.

While we were hoping to do well in badminton, wrestling, shooting, archery and boxing and we did with PV Sindhu (badminton) Mirabai Chanu(weightlifting), Lovina Boroghain(boxing), Ravi Kumar Dhaiya and Bajrang Punia(Wrestling), winning medals and archers Deepika Kumar and Aatnu Das reaching the quarters, shooter Manu Bhaker reaching the finals of their respective events, one of the most heartening things for India was the revival of Indian hockey at the Tokyo Olympics.

From being a hockey superpower (8 Golds, 1 Silver, 3 Bronze) in the 20th century, to failing to qualify (2008) and finishing last (London 2012) Indian hockey finally seemed to turned the corner at Tokyo 2020.

Both the men and women’s hockey teams succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations, especially the women’s team who showed tremendous spirits by making a spirited comeback after losing the first three matches and then of course beating the mighty Australians in the quarters 1-0 to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1980 and finishing fourth.

The men’s team of course did one better and won India’s first medal (Bronze) again in 41 years. One can say this is the beginning of a new chapter in Indian hockey and we once again regain our place as a hockey powerhouse.

Of course, the icing on the cake was Neeraj Chopra winning India’s first ever gmedal in athletics.

The sheer confidence in Chopra’s throw with him not even waiting to see his throw land and raising his arms in celebration, spoke a lot about how far Indian sports had come especially at the Olympics from the near dry spell of the 1980s and 1990s.

On a poignant note Chopra’s success was a perfect tribute to Indian great Milkha Singh, who died recently from COVID wishing to see and Indian win a medal at the track and field event at the Olympics.

Chopra dedicated his gold medal to the Flying Sikh, as Milkha Singh was affectionately called.

Lest we forget we must show our heartfelt appreciation for all the Indian athletes who not just won medals but represented the country at Tokyo 2020 especially veterans like Dhuti Chand (athletics), Mary Kom(boxing) and Sharath Kamal(Table Tennis) who bowed out of the Olympics.

It’s heartening to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi announcing that he will be hosting the entire Indian contingent for tea to thank them and facilitate them and the native states announcing cash rewards for the athletes.

India says goodbye to Tokyo 2020, with the hope that once the celebrations have died down we will see the beginning of a new chapter in Indian sports where we not only celebrate the winners but also appreciate the participants and take care of them beyond the cursory facilitations.

We also hope that finally sports in India will be given the support it needs so that it becomes a source of soft power for us showcasing to the world the strengths and qualities of the New India.

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