Reality check: How will India fare at 2016 Rio Olympics?

For India, the Olympic dreams of world's second most populous country will continue to be a fringe one.

Updated: Jul 29, 2016, 08:48 AM IST
Reality check: How will India fare at 2016 Rio Olympics?

New Delhi: In eight days time, the giant cauldron at the historic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro will be lit to announce the start of the XXXI Olympiad.

The Opening Ceremony on 5 August, which is expected to be a grand affair, will give way to intense sporting competitions. But with majority of Russian athletes barred from the Games, many countries will hope to reap the benefit.

For India, the Olympic dreams of world's second most populous country will continue to be a fringe one, fighting for odd medals, with luck or chance playing a big role.

Still, India — sending it's largest ever contingent in the history — may well end up hitting double figures in medal haul. Another first, if happens.

Here's India's medal prospects. The real ones:

Archery: Chances of India picking a medal in Archery is bright, considering how the women's team has fared in the recent outings. Both Deepika Kumari and Laishram Bombayla are experienced hands.

Athletics: The biggest hope for India in track and filed events is Vikas Gowda, the giant discus thrower. His personal best of 66.28m, also a national record, is way behind world record distance of 74.08m. But the Olympic record is 'only' 69.89m. A good day, and a medal can come India's way.

Long distance runners in both men's and women's field are expected to do well, but not good enough for medals. Qualifying to finals will be a huge boost though. The same goes for women's 4x400m relay team.

Badminton: With two top women's players – Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu – and a brooding young Srikanth Kidambi, Indian badminton has got what it takes to win a medal or two.

Boxing: Prodigious Shiva Thapa should do justice to higher ranking and bring a medal for India. But it will be huge ask for India's youngest ever boxing Olympian at Rio.

Thapa, 22, is ranked sixth but the men's bantamweight field is a tough one with boxers from Ireland, Cuba and Uzbekistan likely to dominate.

Golf: The return of golf in Olympic fold and the withdrawal of top players due to Zika fright and tight scheduling means that India have realistic chance of winning a medal in this exclusivist sport. Anirban Lahiri is one the favourites.

Gymnastics: Dipa Karmakar can create history at Rio. If the girl from Tripura performs to her talent in the vault, India can see their second ever international medal in gymnastics, after Ashish Kumar.

Hockey: India did well to qualify for both the men's and women's events, but only a miracle can give the country a medal.

Shooting: India won two medals in London Games, and the tally is likely to get a boost, for sure. The presence of experienced shooters like Abhinav Bindra and Gagan Narang gives hope. But it's Jitu Rai, who is likely to make India proud. The army shooter, 25, is top shot.

Tennis: Sania Mirza with Rohan Bopanna, and Bopanna with Leander Paes in mixed-doubles and men's doubles can actually win medals. They just need to play like they are playing in Grand Slams.

Weightlifting: Saikhom Mirabai Chanu did well to outmatch her Manipur statemate Khumukcham Sanjita only to find greater challenge in international stage. But she will enter the competition as one of the medal contenders, but not gold, in women's -48kg event.

Wrestling: Grapplers won two medals in London, and can win this time too. The count is likely to see an increase, with or without Narsingh Yadav. Yogeshwar Dutt (men's -57kg freestyle) and Vinesh Phoghat (women's -48kg) are medal contenders.

India's challenge in table tennis, swimming, rowing and judo are meant for stats only.