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Olympics: India hope to do better

With India’s largest contingent travelling to the 2016 Summer Olympics here, billions back home will hope that the blend of experience, youth and debutants participating in the Games will go the extra mile and script history in the biggest extravaganza in the world of sports.

With Indians participating in a larger number of disciplines in this edition of the Games, the country will aim to better its medals tally from the 2012 London Olympics and make it double digit this time around. India won six medals at London, their highest haul so far.

The Rio Olympics will run from August 5 to 21.

The biggest and by far the best bet for India’s golden dreams at the Olympics would be ace shooter Abhinav Bindra.

His 2008 Beijing Olympics gold is the only top individual honour for India at the Games and this time around he remains a strong medal prospect. He has also won the gold medal at the ISSF World Shooting Championship in 2006 and another gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Gagan Narang, another star shooter, is also a strong medal contender. He had claimed a bronze at the London Games and will look for gold this time.

Star shooter Jitu Rai is also in with a strong chance to win a medal in the men’s 50m and 10m pistol events. He will make his debut in the Games. He remains a strong contender after he won a gold medal in the 10m air rifle at the ISSF World Cup earlier this year.

Wrestling is another sport where Indians have emerged as strong contenders in recent years. Veteran Yogeshwar Dutt, who bagged a gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games is probably India’s best bet for a medal.

The 33-year-old from Haryana clinched the bronze medal in the 60kg freestyle category in the last Olympics and will aim to get the top honour in the 65kg division here.

Another Indian wrestler who will be eager to do well will be Narsingh Pancham Yadav. The 26-year-old, who had to stave off a legal challenge from double Olympic medalist Sushil Kumar to decide who will represent India in the 74kg freestyle category, endured a harrowing time in the last few days leading up to the Games after testing positive for a banned substance.

However, with the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) throwing its weight behind him, the Mumbai grappler managed to get a clean chit from the National Anti Doping Agency (NADA). Although the controversy disrupted his training on the eve of the Olympics, it has definitely increased Narsingh’s determination to ensure a podium finish in Rio.

In badminton, India has high hopes from Saina Nehwal, who clinched a bronze in the women’s singles category at the London Olympics and has had a good season so far. The former World No.1 will aim to better her London performance in Rio.

Besides shooting, wrestling and badminton, the millions of Indian fans back home will have their eyes on tennis mixed doubles players Sania Mirza-Rohan Bopanna and the men’s doubles team of Leander Paes and Bopanna.

Women’s doubles World No.1 Sania and Bopanna complement each other perfectly when it comes to style of play and could give a tough time to their opponents on their day.

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