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Mary Kom to Seema Punia: The athletes eyeing their final Olympics in Tokyo

Among the 119 athletes in the official contingent, quite a few will be turning up for their first-ever Olympics while some will be having their farewell tour in Tokyo.

By: Sports Desk |
Updated: July 15, 2021 6:59:22 pm
Mary Kom, Sania Mirza, Sharath Kamal and Seema Punia in view. (File)

After being delayed by a year, the Tokyo Olympics is set to get underway from July 23 and India will aim to come back home with a record medal tally this time.

With a record total of 119 athletes in their official contingent this time around, India have improved on their total of 117 athletes in the 2016 Rio Olympics by two. Out of the 119 athletes, 67 are male and 52 are female participants.

The contingent, whose average age is 26.99 years, has a wide-range — skeet shooter Mairaj Ahmed Khan, 45, is the oldest among the lot whereas 10m air rifle shooter Divyansh Singh Panwar, 18, is the youngest. The contingent has six 19-year-olds.

Among the 119, quite a few will be turning up for their first-ever Olympics while some will be having their farewell tour in Tokyo. Here are some notable names…

MARY KOM

Mary Kom was awarded the Padma Vibushan in 2020. (File)

Mary Kom, the six-time world champion and 2012 London Games bronze medalist, will return to the Games after missing out in 2016. The 38-year-old boxer will be one of the two flagbearers of India at the opening ceremony. She will hope to deliver a perfect Olympic swansong with a gold in the women’s 51kg category.

TARUNDEEP RAI

Tarundeep Rai has a silver and a bronze at the Asian Games. (File)

Tarundeep Rai, the two-time silver medalist at the Archery World Championships, is no stranger to Olympics, having represented the country twice in 2004 Athens and 2012 London. The 37-year-old will be hanging up his bow and arrow at the end of the event, which means Tokyo will be his final chance to bag an Olympic medal.

SHARATH KAMAL

Sharath Kamal is also a two-time Asian Games bronze medalist. (File)

Sharath Kamal, the four-time Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning table tennis player, has been a part of three Olympics so far — 2004 Athens, 2008 Beijing and 2016 Rio. After winning an ITTF title last year, the 39-year-old will be aiming to win his maiden Olympic medal in men’s singles and mixed doubles in Tokyo.

PR SREEJESH

PR Sreejesh has made 208 appearances for India since 2006. (File)

PR Sreejesh, the 2014 Asian Games gold medalist, has been a stalwart of his sport for around fifteen years now. With Tokyo being his last opportunity to make his mark with the national team, the 33-year-old will be aiming to save India from opposition shots and blushes to end the 41-year wait for a gold medal in hockey. In 2016, Sreejesh was the captain of the side that was knocked out in the quarters.

SANIA MIRZA

Sania Mirza news Sania Mirza has won 43 WTA titles plus numerous ITF, national and other titles. (File)

Sania Mirza, the six-time Grand Slam winner and the former doubles world number one, will become the first female athlete to represent India at four Olympics when she takes to the tennis court in Tokyo alongside her doubles partner Ankita Raina. After coming back from her maternity leave last year, she won in Hobart and most recently, she competed in two events at Wimbledon this year.

SEEMA PUNIA

Seema Punia qualified for Tokyo Games with a throw of 63.72m last month. (File)

Seema Punia, the three-time Commonwealth Games silver medalist and 2014 Asian Games gold medalist, will be hoping to win her first-ever Olympic medal in Tokyo after failing in each of the past three editions. With throws of 60.64m in 2004 Athens, 61.91m in 2012 London, and 57.58m in 2016 Rio, the 37-year-old from Haryana had finished 14, 13th, and 20th respectively. Now, the last chance awaits.

Among others, men’s skeet shooter Mairaj Ahmed Khan, men’s 50m rifle 3 positions shooter Sanjeev Rajput, women’s 50m rifle 3 positions shooter Tejaswini Sawant, men’s 20km race walker Sandeep Kumar, and men’s 50km race walker Gurpreet Singh will possibly be participating in their final Olympic Games, from July 23.

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