New Delhi, Feb 10 (IANS) So far, 74 Indian sportspersons, including 15 shooters, have qualified for this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) expects the number to go up to 158.
Asian Games men’s 65kg freestyle champion Bajrang Punia is among the four wrestlers who have earned the Olympic quota places while in shooting pistol aces talented Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker have also booked their berths.
IOA secretary general Rajiv Mehta, in a letter address to the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan regarding vaccination of Tokyo-bound athletes, has said that up to 158 athletes could qualify for the July 23-August 8 Games.
“We are expecting our athletes to participate in almost 17 disciplines. As of now 74 athletes have qualified and the number could increase to 158 as the selection process to participate in the Olympics is yet to be completed,” wrote Mehta.
In shooting, one of the most prolific medal winning disciplines of India, secured 15 quota places in the 2019 qualifying cycle. Angadvir Singh Bajwa, Asian champion in men’s skeet, and pistol aces Chaudhary and Manu are among the quota winners.
The quota is for the country and the final team will be selected close to the start of the Olympics.
India could win individual quota places in the 25m rapid pistol event through Anish Bhanwala in the upcoming New Delhi World Cup, starting on March 18,
Asian Games men’s 65kg freestyle champion Bajrang Punia is among the four wrestlers who have earned the Olympic quota places in the 2019 qualification cycle, but Rajiv Mehta, secretary general of the Indian Olympic Association is hopeful of more wrestlers to make cut for Olympics in the 2021 qualification round starting April.
Ravi Dahiya (57kg), Deepak Punia (86kg), and Vinesh Phogat (53kg) are other three wrestlers to have earned quota place for Olympics.
According to wrestling coach RS Kundu, prominent Greco Roman wrestlers like Gurpreet Singh, who had won gold in the World Ranking Series in Rome last year in January, could be one to watch when the qualifying event starts. “We expect him to qualify as he is training hard and healthy,” said Kundu, who is overseeing Gurpreet’s training.
Asian Games champion Neeraj Chopra and Shivpal Singh are the two leading javelin throwers who have qualified for the rescheduled Olympic Games. KT Irfan (20km race walk), Avinash Sable (3000m steeplechase) and Bhavana Jat (20km race walk) are others to have earned individual quotas. The mixed 4x400m relay team has also booked the ticket for the Olympics by virtue of being a finalist at the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships.
Besides nine boxers, including six time world champion MC Marykom, hockey men’s and women’s teams will also compete in the Tokyo Games starting July 23.
In equestrian Fouaad Mirza is the lone entrant for Olympics.
In archery, the men’s team has qualified while Deepika Kumar has booked an individual quota. The women’s team is expected to make the cut in the upcoming qualifying cycle.