2016 Rio Olympics: Indian players to watch out for

The Rio Olympics Games are set to start from August 5 and the Indian contingent is all set to show its mettle to the world. 

India won a total of six medals during the last Olympics, held in 2012 in London.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the Indian contingent will not only clinch medals but also win hearts with their conduct. Here are the Indian Olympians India has set its hopes on: 

1) Yogeshwar Dutt:

Yogeshwar Dutt (Image source: Wikipedia)

The 34-year-old wrestler, according to The Hindu, has said this will be the last time that he will participate in the Olympics. The 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist will be participating in the 65kg category. 

This time around, nothing short of gold will satisfy him. Speaking to The Hindu, Yogeshwar said, “I wish to go out on a high and I know it is possible.”

During the 2014 Commonwealth Games, he clinched the gold medal in the men's 65 kg freestyle category. That same year, in the Asian Games, he won the gold medal again in the same category.

2) Babita Kumari: Participating in the 53kg women’s wrestling category, Kumari hails from the Phogat family. She is the sister of Geeta Phogat, India's first gold medallist in wrestling at the Commonwealth Games. Her sister Vinesh Phogat will also be representing India at Rio. 

During the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Babita won the gold medal in her category. This followed the silver medal she had clinched at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. She also won a bronze at both the 2012 World Wrestling Championships and 2013 Asian Wrestling Championships.

3) Saina Nehwal:

Saina Nehwal

The first Indian to win an Olympic medal in badminton, Nehwal currently holds the fifth rank in the Women's Singles category under the Badminton World Federation. 

Nehwal shot to fame when she won the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics, which followed the gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Women's Singles badminton. 
After a tough year in 2015, where she fought with various injuries, Nehwal will be looking to make her mark in Rio. Her recent performance at the Australian Open title, where she beat Ratchanok Intanon and world no two Wang Yihan, has given fans hope that she will repeat her victories in Rio too. After clinching her second Australian Open title in June this year, 26-year-old Nehwal seems ready for Rio.    

4) Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna:

Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna (Image source: Twitter)

Mirza and Bopanna will represent India in Tennis Mixed Doubles. Currently, Mirza holds the number one rank among doubles players in the Women's Tennis Association rankings and Bopanna is in 15th place in the Association of Tennis Professionals doubles rankings.

Mirza, for her part, knows how to handle the pressure of big tournaments and pick up big wins, with Mirza and Martina Hingis willing three grand slams in a row. 

5) Deepika Kumari: The 22-year-old archer will be looking to clinch her first Olympic medal in Rio, after her hopes were dashed during the 2012 London Olympics.  

Currently ranked number 12 in the world, in April this year, Kumari equalled Ki Bo-bae's world record of (686/720) in the women's recurve event at the first stage of the World Cup in Shanghai. She helped her team win the silver medal during the tournament and clinched the bronze medal, along with Atanu Das, in the mixed pair event. 

6) Jitu Rai:

Jitu Rai

He will be going into Rio after having secured a silver medal in the 10-metre air pistol event in June this year at the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) shooting World Cup. Rai beat the three-time Korean Olympic champion Jongoh Jin in that tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan. 

In May this year, Rai clinched the 50-metre pistol gold at the ISSF World Cup in Thailand. In the process, he defeated former Olympic champion Pang Wei. 

7) Dipa Karmakar:

Dipa Karmakar (Source: Facebook)

In April this year, Karmakar, who will be competing in the Women’s Vaulting Table event at Rio, became the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for Olympics. 

She is also the only Indian gymnast qualifying for the quadrennial extravaganza after 52 long years.

Hours after securing her place in Rio, Karmakar went on to secure gold in the vaults finals at the test event of the Rio Games.

Speaking to reporters in April, Karmakar had said, "I would now concentrate in serious practice at SAI (Sports Authority of India) coaching centre in Delhi." 

"My only target is to get medals in Rio Olympics, nothing else. I will try to deliver my best in the Olympics," she had added.

8) Vikas Krishan Yadav: The 24-year-old boxer, who lost in the pre-quarterfinals of the 2012 London Olympics, will be looking to clinch a medal in Rio. He will be competing in the 75kg middleweight event. 

Speaking to LiveMint in July this year, he said, "I will win a bronze.” 

Before the 2012 London Olympics defeat, he had clinched gold at the 2010 Asian Games and the bronze medal at the World Championships in 2011.

9) Shiva Thapa: Making his Olympic debut at 18 during the 2012 London Olympics, Thapa was knocked out then in an opening-round loss. 

However, things are different now. With a gold (2013) and bronze (2015) in the Asian Championships and his 2015 bronze medal in the World Championships, Thapa will be looking to make a real impression the second-time-around. 

Speaking to The Times of India, he said, "When I went for my first Olympics, it was a dream come true. All the motivation was overwhelming and at London, I was pretty focused on winning. But, unfortunately, it got over in a flash. I was very dejected. However, I believe that there's one good thing about me which is I find something good in the most negative of situations so, I made up my mind to make it big at the Rio Olympics."

10) Leander Paes:

Martina Hingis and Leander Paes kiss the trophy after winning the mixed doubles title at the 2015 US Open. Photo Courtesy: US Open website

The 43-year-old is geared up for Rio and will represent India in the Men’s Doubles event along with partner Bopanna. Paes, who won his first Olympic medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, a bronze, has won 18 grand slams in men’s doubles and mixed doubles. 

This will be his seventh Olympic outing. 

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