Indians all over the world are keenly looking forward to the London Olympics to start.
This is the year everyone feels that the Indians will make their marks at the global arena.
Over the years, the Indians have struggled to leave their footprint but this time preparations have been different and hopes are increased.
Thanks to surging sponsorships from private firms and benefits of globalization, Indian sportsmen will be the underdogs this year at the events they are participating in, especially shooting, boxing, wrestling, archery, badminton and tennis.
This is the year when India is sending the largest ever contingent to the Olympics and every Indian is waiting to see how many medals are brought back.
Will it be the year when Indian sports make its impact on the Olympic stage?
Let us look into each of these events in detail and how the Indian athletes are waiting for the games to start.
There are seven boxers from India participating in different events in the men's category.
Vijender Singh, after his bronze medal in Beijing Olympics, is once again the favorite to win a medal in the middleweight category.
Vikas Krishan Yadav has shown with his gold medals in the last Asian Games that he is a candidate in the welterweight category.
There are other boxers who have been notching up impressive wins in the boxing circuit of late—some of the (with their categories) are
- Devendro Singh (Light flyweight)
- Shiva Thapa (Bantamweight)
- Jai Bhagwan (Lightweight)
There are 11 shooters (seven men and four women) who are representing India in the shooting events.
Abhinav Bindra is looking forward to repeat his gold medal in the 10-meter air rifle event.
Ronjan Sodhi in the double trap event has been very impressive in tournaments across the world. It will be a disappointment if he does not finish in the podium.
The event with the maximum medal hopes for India, shooting has seen a tremendous growth in India thanks to the exploits of Rajavardhan Singh Rathore, Bindra, Gagan Narang and others.
Other contenders (with their events) include
- Manavjit Singh Sandhu (Trap)
- Vijay Kumar (10 m air pistol, 25 m rapid fire pistol)
- Gagan Narang (10 m air rifle, 50 m rifle prone, 50 m rifle 3 positions)
Sushil Kumar won the bronze medal in his category thanks to a repechage.
In the 66 kg category, Sushil has made rapid strides thanks to his golds in the World Championships and Commonwealth Games.
Sushil is once again a contender for a medal, this time a gold, for the country.
Sushil's friend Yogeshwar Dutt participates in the 60 kg category and has been making silent advances on his game and he could spring a surprise as well in this Olympics.
Saina Nehwal—the name evokes a lot of respect and fear for the Chinese who have otherwise dominated the women's singles competition across the globe.
The fact that the Chinese decided to take the No. 4 ranked player (in place of No. 3) because of a better record against Saina speaks volumes about the Indian.
Thanks to the relatively easy draw, if Saina can retain her form and composure, semifinals will be a minimum. Once there, it is a matter of form on the day.
Other players in the fray include Jwala Gutta in the women's doubles (with Ashwini Ponnappa) and mixed doubles (with Diju).
Though there are high hopes on the doubles team, it looks like there is a lot to catch up for the Indian duo's.
Deepika Kumari is the No. 1 ranked player in the women's individual recurve event.
The youngster has performed admirably in all the competitions she has participated so far. The gold is for her to lose in the recurve event.
Deepika has also had a good feel of the conditions at the Lords cricket ground—surely a glimmer of hope for the Indian contingent.
Deepika's achievements has helped the Indian team also garner the No. 1 rank in the world.
The men's team in the recurve event are placed third in the world rankings and they lost out in the finals in the preparation tournament held at the same venue as the Olympics. Hope for another medal in this event also!
After needless controversies, the mixed doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Leander Paes will represent India at the Olympics.
The pair has already won a gold at the Asian Games earlier and though they have not partnered each other often enough, they have the pedigree to win a medal this year.
Paes is playing his sixth Olympics—proof enough that he will be all charged up to show what he is capable of.
Except for the stray doubles pair where the top-ranked singles players appear, a medal is definitely on the cards for Paes and Sania.
Vikas Gowda is among the 11 athletes who are taking part in the Olympics this time.
Training in the USA for most of his time, Vikas has done well in the lead-up so far.
A seventh place in the World Championships in Daegu augurs well for Vikas.
If Vikas can maintain his good run, he can expect a podium finish at the Olympics.
Krishna Poonia has been practicing in the USA on the discus throw event but her inconsistency can be a worry for her.
Tintu Luka is another contender in the 800 metres if she can learn quickly from her coach (legendary PT Usha) on how to pace her run.
Magnificent Mary, as Mary Kom is known in boxing circles, has been waiting for the Olympics all her career.
Mary's extraordinary record in World Championships for her weight category has been impressive, to say the least.
She has jumped one category in order to participate in the Olympics and this resulted in few hours of tension before she could qualify for the Olympics.
Mary has been sparring with the men's to prepare for the Olympics and she is determined to put up a strong show in what will be her swansong.
The other half of the Great Indian Tennis controversy, Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, have been playing with each other for the last eight months now.
Bhupathi and Bopanna have notched up tournament wins this year in the run-up to the Olympics but they should look out for the odd doubles pairs who will spring a surprise (players like Federer, Djokovic are known to take part in the doubles team events as well).
India was once the powerhouse in the field of hockey.
Once the rules were changed, things got worse and the last medal that India won in Olympics was a gold in 1980.
Thirty-two years has passed and Beijing Olympics was the nadir for Indian hockey when they did not even qualify for the Olympics.
This time around, the Indian team under the guidance of Michael Nobbs qualified through their great performance in the Qualifier tournaments.
With a fitter team and stronger team composition, the Indian team is capable of upsetting the higher-ranked teams in the tournament.
Qualification from the group is tough but not impossible for the Indians who have been playing around the world against several countries recently.
If the injury scares can be taken care of, the Indians will not disappoint their country this time.