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Tokyo Olympics: With 100 Days To Go, Indian Athletes In Mood To Fly Despite COVID Scare

India's hopes to win a slew of medals at the Summer Games in July-August remain on course despite the COVID pandemic playing havoc with the international sports calendar

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Tokyo Olympics: With 100 Days To Go, Indian Athletes In Mood To Fly Despite COVID Scare
India national women's hockey team captain Rani Rampal speaks to team-mates during a training session.
Courtesy: The Hockey India
Tokyo Olympics: With 100 Days To Go, Indian Athletes In Mood To Fly Despite COVID Scare
outlookindia.com
2021-04-14T14:08:03+05:30

There's lingering uncertainty over whether the Tokyo Olympic Games can be staged safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the countdown for the postponed Games is on with only 100 days to go to the Opening Ceremony in the capital city of Japan. And Indian athletes are doing their bit to make the Games an occasion to remember. (More Sports News)

The XXXII Olympiad in July-August will see a sizeable Indian contingent taking part with many medal prospects competing in at least 47 events in more than 10 sports. Some of India's most celebrated athletes, including MC Mary Kom, Bajrang Punia and Neeraj Chopra, have already qualified. A lot of hopes centres around the shooters and of course, Rio 2016 silver medallist and world badminton champion PV Sindhu. India's top badminton players are yet to officially qualify for the Games. 

Besides the individual sports, both the men's and women's hockey teams have also qualified for the Tokyo Games. And both the teams have shown spirited displays since the resumption of the international calendar. 

While the women's team under Sjoerd Marijne has been steadily improving with every outing, the men's team just defeated reigning Olympics champions Argentina in the two-legged FIH Pro League matches. 

Both the captains, Rani Rampal and Manpreet Singh, are confident that their respective teams will be in medal contention in Tokyo. Indian men last won the Olympic hockey gold in Moscow 1980. 

Despite not getting a win under their belt, the women's team put in a string of heartening displays against World No. 2 Argentina and heavyweights Germany earlier this year. 

“I am happy with the fight our team showed against Argentina and Germany earlier this year,” Rani said. “Of course, we’re disappointed to have not registered a win, but we have shown that we could hold our own against higher-ranked opponents... I’m confident that once we convert these good performances into results, we will be in the mix for an Olympic medal too.” 

India are in Group A of the Tokyo Olympics, which also has Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Africa. 

The men's team, currently in Argentina, toured Europe at the start of the year and faced Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands. India are in Group A in the Tokyo Olympics, which also include hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and Spain. 

"I’m very happy with the progress of the team over the last 18 months. If we continue to build on this, I am sure we can defeat any team. The team spirit is high right now and as I said before, we should use every opportunity we get before the Tokyo Olympics to fine-tune our game. The youngsters in the team have come a long way. I’m hoping this form continues and we put a much better display than what we’d managed in the Rio Olympics," Manpreet said. 

Meanwhile, to commemorate the 100-day Olympic, Indian Olympic  Association and the sports ministry are organising special programs, featuring an online seminar and "flagging off" a series of special Olympic films. 

The Olympic films, featuring many of the country's premier athletes, will showcase India's sporting journey. These films, according to the IOA, will not only create awareness about India's elite athletes as they head to Tokyo Olympics but also inspire the younger generation to take up sports as a career option. 

SAI on Sunday released a video promo. The short video highlights some of India's unforgettable moments at the Olympics. It said, "now as countdown to #Tokyo2020 begins let us come together & cheer for #TeamIndia." 

India first sent a contingent to Olympic Games in 1920 (Antwerp, Belgium), and has since participated in every Summers Games. But Norman Gilbert Pritchard, a British-Indian, was the first to represent the country in the 1900 Paris Games.


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