The 2020 Olympics is nearing and the heat to look into promising candidates is spreading far and wide throughout the nation. While the expectations remain high on the achievements of Indian athletes, the focus has currently been shifted to perform a study among some of the top Indian athletes who would essentially be the Olympic medal prospects in Tokyo. The host city of Japan, which runs with its motto “Discover tomorrow”, is expected to have 206 Nations participating with almost 11,091 athletes to count on. The nation has its hopes high on the promising medals in Indian athletics.
So far, India has won 28 medals in the 24 Olympic games that it has participated in since 1900. Out of these, 9 were Gold, 6 Silver, and 11 others were Bronze. Despite all the debacles that India has faced so far, the future looks ingenious as the entire country is finally waking up to sports, besides cricket. Various achievements have been made in track and field events by Indian athletes, some of which include – Javelin, Sprint running, Shooting, etc.
The stage is ready, the audience is on a clock, eager and euphoric, and the players? Let’s look into how and why the following athletes have been shortlisted as some of the budding prospects for medals in India with a spotlight on track and field events:
Neeraj Chopra (Javelin Throw)
This athlete is one of the youngest reigning World Junior Champions and a World Record holder at just the age of 19. He’s a huge hope for India in the javelin throw. Hailing from Khandra village, Panipat district, Haryana, he’s always been, a persistent worker. The year 2011 was his turning point when he started his training in the javelin throw at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Panipat.
His success gradually reached heights in the years 2012 and 2014 with records of 68.46m and 76.5m respectively. Neeraj had won a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games, with a throw of 82.23 m, where he staged an indistinguishable performance equal to the Indian national record. He followed to establish a jaw-dropping performance at the Diamond League debut in the Paris leg, where he impressed the whole nation with a throw of 84.67m. What more could this young chap be expected of, if not being an announced athlete in India’s squad for the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships! India prides on this bright Olympic medal prospect for the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Hima Das (Sprint Running – 400m)
One of the youngest and promising Olympic medal prospects is Hima Das. Born and brought up in Assam near a town called Dhing, She’s nicknamed as the “Dhing Express” as she acquired that through her lightening speed running ability. The 18-year-old is capable of running the 400m in about 51 seconds (50.79s accurately). She showcased it to the world in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, bringing a silver medal to India. She clocked a stunning 51.46 at the IAAF World U20 Championships on July the 12th 2018. This marked her as the first Indian athlete to win a Gold medal in a track event.
Moreover, she was also conferred with the following accolades:
- Arjuna Award entrusted by the President of India on 25 September 2018
- Appointed as India’s first ever Youth Ambassador of UNICEF-India on 14 November 2018
- Appointed as the Assam’s brand ambassador for sports by the Government of Assam
Signing an endorsement deal with Adidas, Hima is undoubtedly a healthy Olympic medal prospect to India.
Mohamad Yanas Ahiya (Sprint Running – 400m)
Specialized in the 400m track event, the Indian athlete holds a bunch of his personal bests that has helped the nation with wide recognition. Even when the road to the Tokyo Olympics has just gotten tougher, Anas stands his pride with unshakable confidence. His personal bests and past records include a national record timed to 45.24s at the Asian Games 400m that won him a silver medal, followed by 20.63s National record in 200m in the year 2018, yet another National record by finishing with 45.31s in the 400m, which he set at the 2018 Czech Athletics Championships, and many more.
Anas has bagged both gold and silver medals in many athletic events and championships such as Polish Athletics Championships in June 2016, South Asian Games in 2016 held in Guwahati, Asian Championships in 2017 held in Bhubaneswar and in 2019 in Doha. It’s indeed astonishing and highly appreciable of him that he, being only the third Indian quarter-miler following Milkha Singh and KM Binu, has won so many titles. The nation couldn’t be any prouder to present this Indian sprinter as an anticipated Olympic medal prospect.
Davinder Singh Kang (Javelin Throw)
The one-of-a-kind and mighty javelin competitor Davinder Singh Kang holds a record of 83.29m throw and bagged a bronze medal at the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships. This was followed with the title of being the first Indian to be qualified for the final of the javelin throw event at the Athletics World Championships in August 2017 with a throw of 84.22m, the seventh best mark in the qualification round.
For a man who had concurrently been unable to beat and advance the 80m mark in the past, he has consistently thrown 83m+ of javelin throws from the following year. With the sustenance of current levels, this Indian is another promising prospect for javelin.
Manu Bhaker (Shooting – 10m)
The saying “Youth Has No Age” becomes an absolute verity when it comes to Manu Bhaker’s achievements. This young prodigy conquered gold medal in the Women’s 10m Air-pistol meet at Commonwealth Games conducted in 2018, just as she was 16. She has given her appearance in her maiden Commonwealth Games being the youngest ever Indian to sway Gold medal at the ISSF (International Shooting Sport Federation) World Cup. Out of the many events that she has participated so far, almost every victory has been a Gold title except just one Silver victory in Buenos Aires 10m Air pistol (mixed team) in the year 2018 at Youth Olympic Games.
Representing India, she has bagged the following Gold titles in the 10m Air pistol – Women’s shooting opens:
- ISSF World Cup:-
- Guadalajara in 2018
- Guadalajara in 2018 (mixed team)
- New Delhi in 2019 (mixed team)
- Beijing in 2019 (mixed team)
- Munich in 2019 (mixed team)
- Commonwealth Games
- Goldcoast in the year 2018
- Youth Olympic Games
- Buenos Aires in 2018
Bhaker would practice for about 10 hours on a daily basis. No doubt that she was able to taste heights of success at such a young age and become an inspiration to thousands of girls in her village. India will always be in pride with such talent and a future prospect for the 2020 Tokyo challenge.
Jinson Johnson (Middle-distance Running – 800m and 1500m)
Being JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer) with a Naib Subedar rank in the Indian Army, Jinson is a successful middle-distance runner, which is basically an 800m race longer than sprints, that can even range up to 3000m. He specializes in the 800m and 1500m, representing India. The Keralite is a passionate athlete who acquired training Kerala Sports Council’s sports hostel located in Kottayam, Kerala, before joining the Indian Army in the year 2009.
With various titles of Gold, Silver and Bronze, Johnson has made his track debut in both Asian Games and Asian Championships. Some of his best past records include 1:49.69 in the 800m event, 2015, at the Asian Athletics Championships held in Wuhan, 1:45.98 in 800m event, 2016, at the Summer Olympics, which clocked his personal best record. Though Johnson understands the requirements of IAAF to have only 40-45 participants to make the event highly competitive, he stays quite confident of his qualifications to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, proudly representing India.
Tejaswin Shankar (High Jump)
The high jump champion Tejaswin Shankar hails from Saket in South Delhi. Through he was from Delhi, he was born to a Tamil family. The shift from cricket to athletics paved him a new pathway to success. He competed in many high jump meets held at inter-school level. Tejaswin’s victories gradually gave him chances to compete in South Asian Games and Commonwealth Games as well. He currently holds National record of 2.29m set in April 2018. Shankar accomplished Gold title at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games conducted in Apia, setting his record of 2.14m and a Silver title that he won at the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati with a remarkable 2.17m leap. Further success was attained by Shankar when he bettered his own record by a leap 2.28m at the 22nd Federation Cup Indian Championships held in Patiala, 2018. This 20-year old chap represents India proudly and would make another excellent prospect in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The will to win surely is important, but the will to prepare is vital.
Results are guaranteed and inevitable with persistence made of sweat, determination, and guts. Together, this makes up the medal of success and pride. These top Indian athletes are the precious Olympic medal prospects.