“Practice is a talent. Preseverence is a talent. Hard work is a talent.”
India’s only individual Olympic Goldmedalist, 10m Air Rifle shooting
We continue our journey of celebrating Indian sports and sporting heroes this month and bring you our second edition of ‘Our road to Rio’. Indian athletes have won a total of 26 medals, all at the Summer Games. For a period of time, India national field hockey team was dominant in Olympic competitions, winning eleven medals in twelve Olympics between 1928 and 1980. The run included a total of 8 gold medals, including six successive gold medals from 1928–1956.
Our last blog introduced us all to our fabulous female Olympic athletes. This blog will shed light on our male Olympic athletes, who are no less inspiring and no less hard working.
To start with, let’s meet Dharambir Singh, the first Indian individual male sprinter in the Olympics after 36 years. He will represent us in the 200m event.
Born in the Ayajab village in Rohtak district in Haryana, Dharambir started off his sporting career as a kabaddi player at the school level, before trying his luck at high jump later. He was then a part of the 4x400m relay team, before finally deciding to focus on 100m and 200m events. He qualified for Rio in Bengaluru earlier this year, when he passed the Olympic mark of 20.50 secs with a timing of 20.45 secs at the Indian Grand Prix Athletics event.
Dharambir Singh. Image source – timesofindia.com
Shooting events are our best chance of a Gold medal this year. World no. one Jitu Rai (10m air pistol, 50m pistol), fuels us on along with Abhinav Bindra (10m air rifle), Kynan Chenai (trap), Mairaj Ahmad Khan (skeet), Prakash Nanjappa (50m pistol), Gagan Narang (10m air rifle, 50m rifle pistol prone, 50m rifle 3 positions),Chain Singh (50m rifle prone, 50m rifle 3 positions), Gurpreet Singh (10m air pirtol, 25m rapid fire pistol) and Manavjit Singh Sandhu (trap).
Jitu Rai, Chain Singh and Gurpreet Singh are also officers in the Indian Army and have their dedicated seniors and coaches to thank for their success. A total of 660 shooters from 88 different countries have confirmed participation in the event which will serve as test event for the upcoming Olympics.
Jitu Rai.sportsrediscovered.com Chain Singh.indianexpress.com Gurpreet Singh. cnnibn.com
Keeping the Hockey dreams alive are the spirited Indian men’s hockey team, who defeated arch-rivals and defending champions Pakistan 4-2 in a nerve-wracking shoot-out to end its 16-year gold medal drought in the Asian Games at Incheon. We earned a direct berth to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The team with the Gold at Incheon. Image – timesofindia.com
Our Badminton team is brimming with champions like Saina Nehwal and Ashwini Ponappa. Joining them are Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy, the first Indian men’s doubles pair to qualify for the Olympics. Playing their maiden Olympics, Manu said they will work harder to make up for the lack of experience.
“Experience is important. But if you work hard, you can improve faster. There is a three-month gap now and we will look to train harder and improve our fitness for Olympics,” the 23-year-old told PTI. Sumeeth said: “Olympics is once in four years and all the players ranked higher than us would obviously be in pressure while playing us, so if we can showcase the best game, then God willing I think we can stand on the podium.
Manu and Sumeeth. Image – www.thehindu.com
Be it land or water, our champions have it all covered. Indian rower Dattu Bhokanal has qualified for the Olympics in single sculls by virtue of his second place, in a field of 20 competitors, in the final of the FISA Asian and Oceania Olympic qualification regatta in Chungju (Korea).
Interestingly, Bhokanal was scared of water for he did not know swimming some time ago. That was the phase when he even thought of quitting the sport too. But, after a few days of outing in the water and a stint in swimming, he got hooked to the sport in 2012 when he joined Bombay Engineer Group & Centre (Khadki).
The two-time gold medalist in the 2014 National Rowing Championships from Services says that he got the real confidence of dreaming big when he finished, what he insists, a creditable fifth in the 2014 Asian Games in China. “That was the time when I set my eyes on Rio Olympics,” he says.
Dattu Bhokanal. Image – www.thehindu.com
A total of 107 athletes from our country will be in Rio next month. Like they say, “Sport does not build character. It reveals it.” Let us, in the true spirit of citizenship and sportsmanship, motivate our heroes to get the medals home.
This time, let’s play for the country.