2019: A year full of Olympics quota for Indian athletes

Last Modified Monday, 30 December 2019 (17:32 IST)
-Abhijit Deshmukh

A year before is a bit different, difficult but the most important one. For Indian athletes, it doesn't feature Commonwealth or Asian games, so the inspiration has to be from world championships or Olympics qualifiers.

This decisive year is not only about preparation but leading the race of process and confirming berth for the olympics. Winning any medal at world championship, provides immense confidence and keeps athlete on the right track towards olympic glory. So far 61 athletes in five have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.Let's have a look at some of the best performances by Indian athletes this year.
India's biggest sporting moment of the year came from PV Sindhu who triumphed at Basel, Switzerland. Sindhu outclassed Nozomi okuhara 21-7, 21-7 in the women's singles final to win the maiden world championship. She thus became first Indian to be crowned as badminton world champion.

It was a stubborn performance by sindhu who failed on last two occasions finishing with silver medal in 2017 & 2018 world championship. It was fifth medal for 24-year-old at world championship who also won bronze in 2013 & 2014 edition. In men's singles, B Sai praneeth won bronze ending the drought of male badminton player winning medal at world championship after 36 years.
It was an impeccable performance by Indian wrestlers at the world championship held at Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. Vinesh Phogat (53kg) in women's freestyle while Bajrang Punia(65kg), Deepak Punia(86kg), Ravi Kumar Dahiya(57kg) and Rahul Aware(61 kg) in men's freestyle brought glory to the country winning the medals.

Making his debut at world championship Deepak won silver while rest clinched bronze in repechage events. Aware who won medal in non-olympic category will miss bus for tokyo while everyone else assured berth for the 2020 Olympics. Although, few wrestlers are still in line to clinch the quotas for the olympics but the real medal hopes will be the four medalist that won medal at world championships.
Indian shooters hits the bulls eye this year with 21 Gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze medal at several ISSF World cup to top the table in medal tally. Saurabh Chaudhary, Manu Bhaker, Abhishek Verma, Rahi Sarnobat, Apurvi Chandela a few who delivered splendid performance throughout the year.

A record 15 Indian shooters have qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, making it the highest shooting contingent ever at the olympics. The dominance across the ISSF world cups has increased medal hopes at the Olympics and it will be interesting to see how the shooters respond after returning empty handed from Rio. 
Amit Panghal became the first male boxer to win silver medal at world championship held at Yekaterinburg, Russia. The 2018 Asian games gold medalist amit, lost a hard fought final against Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in flyweight category. At the same championship, Manish Kaushik won bronze medal in lightweight category.

In women's Manju rani won silver medal in light flyweight category while Mary kom (Flyweight), Jamuna Boro (Bantam weight), Lovlina Borgohain (Welterweight) won bronze at world championship. It was unfortunate that world championship didn't act as Olympics qualifiers as IOC suspended AIBA due to it governance and refereeing standards.
The IAAF world athletics championship held at Doha, Qatar provided nothing but two olympics quotas for India. Indian mixed relay team of Muhammed Anas (M), V. K. Vismaya (W), Jisna Mathew (W), Noah Nirmal Tom (M) reached the finals of 4x400m race and qualified for the olympics.

A seventh finish may not be best result but reaching final is rare feat achieved by Indians at world championship. Another Indian, Avinash Sable also reached the finals in steeplechase assuring another Olympic quota.
Indian men's team comprising Atanu Das, Pravin Jadhav and Tarundeep Rai won the silver medal in recurve event assuring an olympic quota. Talented Deepika Kumari failed to win medal at world championship but sealed the tokyo olympics berth after winning bronze at Asian archery championship held at Bangkok, Thailand.

Two more medals came from women's in compound event which is a non-olympic category. Alot has been spoken about talented archers won medal at World championship, CWG and asian games but the olympic medal is missing to complete the circle.
Both Indian men's and women's team qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after playing the playoffs. Indian men's hockey team defeated Russia 11-3 on aggregate in two leg series to seal the berth for Olympics.

While women's team faced a tough challenge from USA, after the chal de girls won the two match leg 6-5 and confirmed their second consecutive Olympic appearance. Both men and women's team were part of Rio Olympics but couldn't deliver a PAR performance. It will be interesting to see, if either of Indian team can break the jinx of to finish on podium, after last gold medal in 1980 Moscow Olympics.