As India sends its largest ever contingent to the Tokyo Olympics 2020, the country expects its best medal haul of all time. The 119-member team includes several medal hopefuls – some experienced, some barely entering adulthood. The Games could be a platform for debutants to make hay while the sun shines, as they can approach the event without pressure.
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Here we look at five teenage stars who can win medals for India at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Saurabh Chaudhary has been in good form in the leadup to Tokyo. He has delivered consistent results in the 10m air pistol event over the last two years. He owns the big stage events, including the World Cups, where he has finished on the podium every time – winning gold in 2019 New Delhi, 2019 Munich, silver in 2021 New Delhi and bronze medals in Rio de Janeiro and Osijek.
Saurabh Chaudhary’s performance at the recently-concluded World Cup in Osijek puts him in good stead ahead of the Olympics. His score of 581, which is just below the bronze medal score at Rio 2016, makes him one of the favorites to win a medal for India at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
2. Manu Bhaker (19 years old)
Manu Bhaker is no stranger to expectations. She has owned the 10m/25m air pistol events and goes into her first-ever Olympics with a truckload of expectations.
After winning nine gold medals at the World Cups, two at the Asian Shooting Championships and one gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Indian shooter will settle for nothing less than gold in Tokyo.
3. Anshu Malik (19 years old)
Anshu Malik has become a household name in wrestling. Participating in the 57kg freestyle event, Anshu Malik tasted success at the junior level before she arrived on the senior scene with a bang.
Anshu Malik is off to fine form this year. She won silver in the Asian Wrestling Championships to qualify for Tokyo 2020.
She brought down some big names in the tournament, including South Korea’s Um Ji-eun, Kazakh wrestler Emma Tissina and Shokhida Akhmedova of Uzbekistan.
Anshu Malik was also successful during her junior years, winning the World Cadet Wrestling Championships in 2017 and the Asian Junior Championships in 2019.
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Sonam Malik is the youngest Indian wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. A close friend of Anshu Malik, Sonam will compete in the women’s freestyle 62kg category.
Sonam Malik rose to fame when she beat 2016 Olympic bronze-medallist Sakshi Malik. Rising up the ranks, she was the undisputed leader in the junior circuit, so much so that even Vinesh Phogat can’t stop raving about her talent.
The 19-year-old Indian wrestler is in fine form going into the Tokyo Olympics. She defeated China’s Jia Long, Tsing Ping Pal of Chinese Taipei and Ayaulym Kassymova of Kazakhstan in the Asian Wrestling Championships. Although she didn’t play the final due to an injury, Sonam Malik has recovered well in time and will look for a podium finish in Tokyo.
5. Divyansh Singh Panwar (18 years old)
Divyansh Singh Panwar is a medal contender in the 10m air rifle, one of India’s stronghold events on the international scene.
Divyansh Singh Panwar peaked in time for Tokyo 2020, winning silver at the 2019 ISSF World Cup in Beijing.
Also read: A look at the Indian contingent’s coaches