Neeraj Chopra, hockey medal highlights of a memorable Olympic campaign for India in 2021 : Rashtra News
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The buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which started on July 23 and ended on August 8 was marked by cautious optimism, in addition to the raft of uncertainty that came with holding the Games amidst stringent safety protocols amid the Covid-19 pandemic and without spectators. While Indian athletes had shown enough promise to realistically expect a healthy return of medals in the Games, the failures of Rio 2016 were still fresh.
What ended up happening was that India produced their best-ever performance at the Games, starting with Mirabai Chanu’s silver in weightlifting on the very first day and capped off by a historic gold medal for Neeraj Chopra in javelin throw on what was the country’s final day of competition in Tokyo. Along the way, fans got to see an Indian hockey team win a medal after generations. PV Sindhu joined Sushil Kumar in being the only Indian to win two individual Olympic medals and India added to its tally of wrestling and boxing Olympic medals.
India have lift-off with Mirabai
Mirabai won bronze on the first day to become India’s first Olympic medallist in weightlifting since 2000. The diminutive Manipuri lifted a total of 202kg (87kg+115kg) to better Malleswari’s performance more than two decades ago. With this effort, Mirabai also exorcised the ghosts of the 2016 Games where she had failed to log a single legitimate lift, leaving her shattered.
However, the following days made the early part of the Olympics a mixed bag for India. While Mirabai’s medal and the trailblazing fencer Bhavani Devi’s performances made waves, the Indian shooting contingent’s failure to win a medal turned out to be a sore point. The shooters had dominated the sport for nearly three years going into the Olympics, but in Tokyo, stories came out of discontent within the camp.
Among the archers, Atanu Das stunned Korean great and London Olympic gold medalist Oh Jinhyek to reach the Round of 16. There he lost 4-6, thus marking the end of the Indian archers’ campaign at the Olympics. Deepika Kumari, who was taking part in her third Olympics, lost in the quarter-final to eventual gold medallist An San of South Korea.
Meanwhile, boxing great Mary Kom was knocked out in the first round in what was her final appearance at the Olympics. Mary was unhappy with the result, saying that she had thought she had won until well after the fight.
Men’s hockey team wins 1st Olympic medal in 41 years
The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams recovered from their shaky starts in the tournament to progress to the knockouts. It was the first time that the women’s team had reached the stage and they ended up stunning gold medal favourites Australia to reach the semi-finals.
The men also reached the semis, where they lost to eventual gold medallists Belgium. They then played a thrilling bronze medal match against Germany and won 5-4, securing the first Olympic medal for Indian hockey in 41 years. The women also played a thriller of a bronze medal match and while they ended up on the losing side, they earned plaudits for the fight that they showed throughout the tournament.
Lovlina Borgohain finished with bronze
Lovlina Borgohain from the Baro Mukhia village of Assam’s Golaghat district became only the third Indian boxer to finish on the Olympic podium after six-time world champion MC Mary Kom and the very decorated Vijender Singh. Despite winning a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in boxing, Lovlina Borgohain was not happy as she says that her aim is to win the gold at Paris 2024.
Sindhu seals her 2nd Olympic medal
Meanwhile, Sindhu progressed serenely along the badminton field. She reached the semi-final without dropping a game but could not go past Taiwan’s Tai Tzu Ying, who would also end Sindhu’s bid to win a fourth successive World Championship medal later in the year. However, Sindhu kept her eye on the prize and beat China’s He Bing Jiao in the bronze medal match, thus becoming the first Indian since Sushil Kumar at London 2012 to win two individual Olympic medals.
Ravi Dahiya steals the show in wrestling
In wrestling, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat went in as contenders to win gold. While Bajrang ended up winning bronze, Vinesh had a disappointing campaign as she missed out on a medal in the second Games campaign. It was the soft-spoken Ravi Dahiya who stole the show, however, as he won silver in the men’s 57kg category.
Neeraj rounds off India’s campaign with a gold
It was all rounded off emphatically by Neeraj, who became the first Indian to win gold in a track and field event. Neeraj had already made history in the qualification round of men’s javelin throw by topping his group. With Germany’s Johannes Vetter, the runaway favourite to win gold, struggling to reach the 85m mark, Neeraj took the lead with his first throw of 87.03m. However, he bettered his performance in the following round with an 87.58m throw. Neither he nor the rest of the field could better that throw in later attempts and he stood at the top of the podium.
Neeraj’s gold was India’s seventh in Tokyo, thus surpassing the country’s previous highest haul of six at the 2012 London Olympics. Neeraj was also India’s second individual Olympic gold medallist after former shooter Abhinav Bindra, who won the men’s 10m air rifle title in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. If the buildup to the Games was marked by cautious optimism, the crowds that thronged the New Delhi airport and the streets of the capital city to catch a glimpse of the medal winners after they arrived in India showed that the emotion had been replaced by almost unfiltered joy.
( News Source :Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Rashtra News staff and is published from a www.indiatoday.in feed.)
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