With just over 6 months to go for the start of delayed Tokyo Olympics,let us focus on different sports which in which athletes have made their nations proud on the biggest sporting event of the world.
In the first part we look at badminton.
Badminton was played as exhibition sport at 1972 and 1988 Summer Olympics.It made its debut at 1992 Barcelona Olympics where singles and doubles events for both men and women were held.
Domination of China
China has dominated badminton over the past few decades.China won staggering 41 medals including 18 golds at Oltmpics.Super Lin Dan of China won consecutive gold medals at 2008 and 2012 Olympics in men’s singles.Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia won historic gold medal at Athens Olympics in 2004.Among women,Zhang Ning also from China won back to back gold medals at 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games.Over the past two decades,South Korean and Malaysian shuttlers have won medals at Olympics.While Asian players were successful,last Olympics in Rio saw emergence of new star from Europe in women’s singles-Carolina Marin of Spain clinching gold beating P V Sindhu of India in the thrilling final.
Athletes to watch out for in Tokyo
Japanese Kento Momota had a fabulous 2019 with 11 titles before car crash in early 2020 forced him out for almost entire year.He came back strongly by winning All Japan Championships in December.World champion will be desperate to win Olympic gold for the country.He will be favourite to win yellow metal despite tough opponents like Viktor Axelsen and Chou Tien Chen.Like Momota,Carolina Marin is also making a comeback after injury setback for past couple of years.Defending champion Marin will have to face stiff competition in Tokyo though as Tai Tzu Ying along with local hopefuls Nozomi Okuhara and Akane Yamaguchi will try their best to win gold.
Only two Indian shuttlers- P V Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth are almost certain to make it to Tokyo.Likes of Saina Nehwal,Kidambi Srikanth and H S Prannoy will have to perform good in the qualification events starting in March this year.In men’s doubles,SatwikSaiRaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty are likely to qualify with their current ranking.As far as winning medals are concerned,only P V Sindhu looks good bet for India.Rio Olympics silver medallist will be desperate to go one higher in Tokyo.World Championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth must overcome lack of match practice and nerves to have any chance of winning a medal.
By Shailesh Padhye