Millennium Post

With 100 days to go, India set to roll out largest contingent

With exactly 100 days to for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, India is all set to field its largest-ever contingent at the quadrennial Games.

As many as 77 athletes have made the grade and a few more are expected to join them before the qualification process comes to an end. The Indian Olympic Association is hopeful the final numbers of athletes will be approximately 95 to 100. Indians have ensured presence in nine disciplines – Archery, Athletics, Boxing, Hockey, Gymnastics, Rowing, Shooting, Table Tennis and Wrestling, while more athletes are close to sealing their berths in Badminton, Golf and Tennis. Additional athletes also expected to achieve qualification in Athletics, Boxing, Weightlifting and Wrestling.

“As we come closer to the Rio Olympic Games, the excitement is mounting and our athletes are preparing hard to improve on their previous performances. They are either in camps or competing abroad and getting ready for the big test,” said Rakesh Gupta, Chef-de-Mission of the Indian contingent.

“As of now 77 sportspersons have qualified and some more are expected to join the list and we hope that the total number of Indian athletes will touch 100. The nation’s best wishes are with our contingent as they go and compete for glory with the best in the world,” he added.

“The Organising Committee has been very helpful and communicative,” added Gupta. There will also be a Pre-DRM (Delegation Registration Meeting) conference in May to sort out issues. The Organising Committee is also favourably considering the IOA request for inclusion of Indian food in the Village menu.  

The IOA has been getting regular updates from Brazil and the organisers have assured us that all preparations are progressing well and all will be ready in time. All health issues and queries are being tackled and addressed adequately by the concerned authorities in Brazil.

Athletes and Teams are in camps
Many of the qualified teams and athletes are already in camps and others are in the process of qualifying for their disciplines. The Hockey team is training in Bengaluru and will soon compete in a six-nation tournament and also the Champions Trophy in UK.

The archers, shooters and table tennis players are also training and competing in international events to get ready. In badminton Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Kidambi Srikkanth are close to qualifying, while in tennis Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna are also within striking distance. Some wild cards are also expected in June.

In golf, it is clear that Anirban Lahiri and SSP Chawrasia, both in Top-60 of the list of Olympic qualifiers will make the grade among men, and Aditi Ashok is likely to make the women’s list of qualifiers. The cut-off date is July 11.

Hockey the largest segment of Indian contingent
The three largest segments of the Indian contingent will be hockey, with 32 players, 16 each in men and women, followed by athletics, where 18 have already qualified. In Shooting 12 have achieved the mark. The women’s hockey team has qualified for the first time since 1980.

The Olympic Torch is on the way
Late last week on April 21, the flame for the Olympic Games in Brazil was lit in southern Greece, as per tradition.

An actor performing the role of high priestess lit the torch by using the sun’s rays. Actor Katerina Lehou, lit the torch, offered a prayer to Apollo, the old Greek god of light and music, at the April 21 ceremony.

The international relay will culminate at the opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on August 5. The flame will go across Greece and is due to arrive in Brazil on May 3 after travelling through hundreds of cities and villages all over Brazil.

Men’s hockey team clubbed with Germany, Holland
India’s men’s hockey team was on Wednesday handed a tough group for the Rio Olympic Games as it has been pooled with defending champions Germany, European Champions Netherlands and Pan-American Games champions Argentina in the six-team Pool B.

Indian team will open its campaign against first-time qualifiers Ireland on the August 6. Team’s first real test will come against Germany on August 8 before they clash with Argentina (August 9), the Netherlands (August 11) and Canada (August 12).

The top four teams from each pool will qualify for the knock-out stage, beginning August 14. Australia, Great Britain, Belgium, New Zealand, Spain and Brazil form Pool A.

“We will play the three top teams of our group back to back. Instead of looking at that as a daunting task we think it’s a great opportunity. It’ll help us keep improving our level, and positive results will give us more confidence from game to game,” Coach Roelant Oltmans said. On the women s side, India are in a group featuring the Argentina and Australia.

The women’s hockey team, that has qualified for the Olympics after 36 years, will take on Japan in their opener on the August 7. They next play Great Britain (August 8), Australia (August 10), USA (August 11) and Argentina (August 13).
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