Yearender 2021: The glittering high of Tokyo Games


New Delhi : The Tokyo 2020 Olympics had created a dramatic prelude to its 2021 resumption, after being postponed last year. Fans could barely contain their excitement and as the biggest global event finally unfurled, Indian athletes served up a great volley of victories that completely captured the heart of the country.

This year the Games were held with COVID-19 induced restrictions from July 23 to August 8 and all sports were played behind closed doors. About 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries competed in the Olympics as Japan witnessed sporting excellence across 33 sports.

Newly added sports for the 2020 Summer Olympics competition included karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, and surfing. Baseball/softball made its appearance once again after missing in the previous two Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Paralympics featured 22 sports and were held from August 24 to September 5. Badminton and taekwondo were newly included for the 2020 Summer Paralympics.

In both the Olympics and Paralympics, India witnessed a record medal haul as the country’s athletes gave their best ever performances in Japan.

In Olympics, India recorded its best-ever haul with seven medals (one gold, two silver, and four bronze). The highlight of the Games for India was definitely, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra clinching a gold medal for the country. Flamboyant Chopra secured a top-podium finish with a throw of 87.58m. With this, he became the first Indian Olympian to claim the yellow metal in athletics and only the second individual gold medallist after Abhinav Bindra.

Another highlight for the country was the Indian men’s team clinching the bronze medal and ending the 41-year-old medal drought. Manpreet Singh and Co. finished second in Pool A winning four out of five group phase matches and defeated Great Britain 3-1 in the quarter-final before losing 5-2 against Belgium in their historic semi-final. However, Indians staged a remarkable comeback to grab a 5-4 win over Germany to clinch a historic Bronze medal at Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, the Indian Eves, who faced three losses in the initial matches, went on to pull off arguably the biggest upset as they beat the world number three Australian side in what was their first-ever quarter-final of the Olympics. Rampal Rani and Co. lost both the semi-final and the Bronze Medal Play-Off match against Argentina and Great Britain, respectively. Hence, finishing fourth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In the golf event, Aditi Ashok also narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal after finishing a brilliant 4th in the women’s individual stroke play. On the final day, the 23-year-old rolled in five birdies to be placed a famous fourth on fifteen-under 201 ahead of Australia’s Hannah Green and Denmark’s Pedersen who tied for fifth. The Indian finished the final day with 68 (-3) at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Shuttler PV Sindhu also created history as she became the second Indian athlete to win two individual Olympic medals. She defeated Bing Jiao 21-13, 21-15 in the bronze medal match that lasted 52 minutes. Sindhu had earlier returned with a silver medal at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Other medallists for India were wrestler Bajrang Punia (bronze), weightlifter Mirabai Chanu (silver), boxer Lovlina Borgohain (bronze), and wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya (silver).

After the end of the Olympics, the Tokyo Paralympics gave the Indian fans a major high. The sheer display of passion, will, and undeterred effort by the Indian athletes was on display as the country shone bright, winning a total of 19 medals, including five gold, eight silver, and six bronze, marking its best-ever performance at the Paralympic Games.

India sent its biggest ever contingent of 54 para-athletes across as many as 9 sporting disciplines at the Games. Badminton and Taekwondo made their debut in Tokyo, both of which were represented by India.

Since making its first appearance at the Paralympics in 1968, India had won 12 medals in total till the 2016 Rio edition. The country has now massively improved upon that entire number by 7 medals at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020 alone.
Out of a total of 162 nations, India have finished 24th in the overall medal tally, while its accomplishment of 19 medals is ranked 20th based on the number of medals.

The Gold medallists from the Indian contingent at Tokyo Paralympics were: Avani Lekhara in Women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1, Pramod Bhagat in Men’s singles SL3 badminton, Krishna Nagar in Men’s singles SH6 badminton, Sumit Antil in Men’s Javelin Throw F64, and Manish Narwal in Mixed 50m Pistol SH1.

Silver medallists were: Bhavinaben Patel in Women’s Singles Class 4 Table Tennis, Singhraj Adhana in Mixed 50m Pistol SH1, Yogesh Kathuniya in Men’s Discus F56, Nishad Kumar in Men’s High Jump T47, Mariyappan Thangavelu in Men’s High Jump T63, Praveen Kumar in Men’s High Jump T64, Devendra Jhajharia in Men’s Javelin F46, and, Suhas Yathiraj in Men’s Singles Badminton SL4.

Bronze medallists were: Avani Lekhara in Women’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1, Harvinder Singh in Men’s Individual Recurve Archery, Sharad Kumar in Men’s High Jump T63, Sundar Singh Gurjar in Men’s Javelin Throw F46, Manoj Sarkar in Men’s Singles Badminton SL3, and Singhraj Adhana in Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1.
The records made by the Indian medallists are as follows: Sumit Antil – World Record in F64 Men’s Javelin (Gold), Avani Lekhara – Equalled the World Record and made a Paralympic Record in R2 Women’s 10m Air Standing SH1 (Gold), Manish Narwal – Paralympic Record in P4 Mixed 50m Pistol SH1 (Gold), Nishad Kumar – Asian Record in Men’s High Jump T47 (Silver), and Praveen Kumar – Asian Record in Men’s High Jump T64 (Silver). (ANI)