For decades, India’s expedition at the Olympics has faced one major hurdle: the massive gap between the nation’s thirst for evenhanded glory and the number of medals won. With 126 athletes across 18 sports disciplines, India had sent its biggest-ever contingent to Tokyo Olympics. Indian athletes participated in 69 cumulative events across disciplines, the highest ever for the country.

India’s best-ever Olympics show came in spite of an underwhelming performance from the shooters, usually the most consistent athletes in recent Games. While boxing was also expected to bring more than a single bronze medal, there were also a few near-hits: the valiant efforts of the women’s hockey team, Aditi Ashok in women’s golf and Deepak Punia in men’s freestyle 86kg wrestling. Particularly satisfying were the feats of India’s women in blue in hockey, a game they once dominated with clinical ruthlessness.

Chopra’s gold on the penultimate day of the Tokyo Games safeguarded that all was not lost for the Olympians, who are dwarfed by the country’s cricket stars when it comes to sponsorship, infrastructure, training, and popularity. Abhinav Bindra, whose 10-metre air rifle triumph at the 2008 Games was India’s lone gold medal previously, summed up the enormity of Chopra’s success.

India needs a suitable framework for preparation and practice sessions of competitors that could make them more skillful and exceptional to manage A-list contenders. We hope this win at the Olympics reduce the core obsession with cricket and we focus more towards sports that are not mainstream at the current stage.

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Joydev Mishra


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