NEW DELHI : With less than a month to go to the 2012 London Olympics, Indian athletes are confident of bagging medals.
With over 80 athletes qualifying for the London Olympics, India is sending its largest contingent ever to the Games.
And hopes are high that this team will better India’s best performance in the Games so far — at the Beijing Olympics.
The 2008 Games saw India taking its Olympic medal tally to three.
Shooter Abhinav Bindra made history by becoming the first individual athlete to win a gold medal for India.
Boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar bagged a bronze medal each at Beijing.
Manavjit Singh Sandhu, a trap shooter, said: "Now the entire contingent feels far more professional, my colleagues are training very hard...after 2004 when we (shooters) won the first Olympic medal for India and carried on with 2008, so that momentum build—up has been tremendous, and especially this time around, I really know that the entire country is looking at us, it is not just because it is the Olympics, it more like we are going there, we are going to win something for them. It is a fantastic feeling."
Women athletes have added to India’s Olympic medal hopes.
In the archery world, 18—year—old Deepika Kumari has been hailed as one of the favourites to win gold.
She said: "I am not very concerned about it (holding the world number one ranking) because I would be happier if I end up winning a gold medal, and it would add more value to it, and then I would be more proud to say that I am world number one."
And with the addition of women’s boxing in the 2012 London Olympics, Indian boxer and five—time world champion Mary Kom is toiling hard for a gold medal win.
She said: "I (focused on) my training and I finally qualified for the Olympics...I am very (grateful) to the Ministry of Sports, federations and sponsors (for) giving (me their) full support..."
There are high hopes too for ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal, tennis star Leander Paes and shooter Gagan Narang.
The Indian hockey team is also widely expected to clinch a medal. It has a strong track record, having won the bulk of India’s 20 Olympic medals so far — eight of them gold.
Apart from hockey and a few fine performances in athletics, India’s record in the Olympics has been below average. But with athletes working hard and a billion people praying for contingent’s success, the 2012 Olympic Games will be watched keenly.