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Sarath Ramesh Kuniyl
Sarath Ramesh Kuniyl

RIO 2016

Who will win India's first medal in Rio?

  • Narsingh Yadav (left) and Yogeshwar Dutt
  • P.V. Sindhu (left) and K. Srikanth

The great Indian dream at the Rio Olympics is fast turning into a nightmare. After registering its best performance at the Olympics, in London four years ago—six medals, two silver and four bronze—India dared to dream for more. After all, in athletes like Abhinav Bindra, Saina Nehwal, Jitu Rai, Sania Mirza and Deepika Kumari, to name a few, the country had some world-class performers.

But then the ball began rolling and Indian hopes started falling like ninepins. And for the first time since 1992, India is in danger of drawing a blank. With less than a week left for the Games to conclude, more than a billion hopes for an Olympic medal now rest mainly on these four:

Yogeshwar Dutt
With the poster boy of Indian wrestling, Sushil Kumar, failing to make it to Rio, all eyes will be on the 2012 bronze medallist. He will be stepping on to the mat on August 21, in the 65kg freestyle category. It is the fourth Olympics for 33-year-old Dutt, and, possibly, his last. What better way to bow out than with an Olympic medal—yellow metal—around his neck.

Narsingh Yadav
If Yadav manages to win a medal, it will be more of a testament to his mental strength than to his physical prowess. First came the controversy regarding his quota-place selection to the 74kg freestyle category at the expense of Sushil Kumar. The court ruled in his favour but before the Maharashtrian wrestler could heave a sigh of relief, he was overshadowed by a doping row. When Yadav, 27, starts his campaign on August 19, there will be much more than an Olympic medal at stake for him.

And when we talk of wrestling, can the Phogat family be far behind? Babita Kumari and her cousin Vinesh Phogat—the gold medallists in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games—will have their tasks cut out when they take the mat in the women's 53kg freestyle and 48kg freestyle categories respectively.

Kidambi Srikanth
While the spotlight was on India's badminton ace Saina, the lone singles player in the men's draw has reached the quarterfinals without much ado. Srikanth pulled off a major upset winning 21-19 21-19 against the super Dane, Jan O Jorgensen, setting up a mouth-watering clash against two-time and reigning Olympic champion Lin Dan of China. The Indian has beaten Lin Dan once in China Open final in 2014. Just saying...

P.V. Sindhu
Can the 21-year-old from Hyderabad do what Saina could not at Rio Olympics? Sindhu brushed aside Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying 21-13 21-15 in a 40-minute encounter. She will face China's Wang Yihan, the silver medallist in 2012 London Olympics. The head-to-head record between them stands at 4-2 in favour of Yihan but with nothing to lose, Indian fans will expect Sindhu to come out all guns blazing.

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