Written by Sakshi Agarwal (Weloquent)
This year, Indian sportspersons have added 7 laurels to the country’s growing mettle at the Olympics games held at Tokyo from 23rd July to 8th of August, 2021. Here is a list of our inspiring stars who have shown us what courage and conviction can do.
1. Neeraj Chopra, 23, Haryana
Gold – Men’s Javelin throw.
With a throw of 87.58 cm, Neeraj Chopra added his name amongst the stars as the second Indian individual Olympic champion in 13 years to win a gold medal. He is a subedar in the army and was selected for training at the Mission Olympics Wing and Army Sports Institute in Pune. He was pushed into gymnastics to reduce his weight at the young age of 12 and began his training then. He took to javelin throwing naturally, encouraged on this journey by his coaches.
He attributes his victory to his ability to stay focused - and he says, “I wasn't on social media because I wanted to stay focused on my event. I didn't want to get distracted by online conversations. I think that it is important to give your 100% and it's only a matter of 10-15 days. For that duration, if you stay off it [online] for a while, I don't think it's a big deal. The focus needs to be on the game.”
2. Mirabai Chanu, 27, Manipur
Silver – Women’s 49kg weightlifting.
Mirabai Chanu became the first Indian to score a medal for the country on the very first day of the Olympics. Following her loss at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mirabai persevered through years of training and turned the tides in her favour, securing a massive victory with the Silver Medal for her country. Being unable to afford private transportation to get to her training centre, one of Mirabai’s first acts after winning the medal was to host a lunch to honour the many truck drivers who graciously helped her on her journey. Her tale is an example of humility and spirit.
3. Ravi Kumar Dahiya, 23, Haryana
Silver – Men’s 57kg freestyle Wrestling.
The second Indian to win a silver medal in Wrestling, Ravi Kumar Dahiya is passionate about turning the silver into a gold at the upcoming 2024 Olympics in Paris. He hopes that his victory will bring change to the attitude towards sports in the country and is “glad youngsters in [my] village will get more opportunities.” Coming from a humble village in Haryana, his story is that of grit and determination that he carries with him till this day.
4. Lovlina Borgohain, 23, Assam
Bronze – Women’s Welterweight Boxing.
Lovlina’s journey to the bronze medal was not devoid of roadblocks. Despite needing to isolate herself (since she tested positive for Covid) while her teammates attended a 52-day training trip to Europe, she did not let the odds deter her resolve. Using empty gas cylinders as practice equipment, she has rightfully earned her name amongst champions by securing a bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She hopes to carry forward this zeal, inspiring all of us with her infectious dream of winning the gold.
5. P V Sindhu, 26, Telangana
Bronze – Women’s Singles Badminton.
“Your dreams have the power to make you fly high.” These words are reinforced by Sindhu time and again as she adds more feathers to her hat. Already a record breaker and the first Indian to become the World Badminton Champion, P V Sindhu’s belief in herself has led her to win many accolades for herself and her country.
6. Men’s Hockey Team
By beating Germany with a score of 5-4, the Indian Men’s Hockey team won the first medal in the sport in 41 years (the last medal was won at the 1980 games.) Led by mid-fielder Manpreet Singh, who was also the first Indian hockey player to be named the FIH men’s hockey player of the year (2019), the 16-member team managed to nick the medal away from Germany with a margin of one goal, reaffirming the importance of never giving up.
7. Bajrang Punia, 27, Haryana
Bronze – Men’s 65kg Freestyle Wrestling.
Bajrang Punia started his journey at the mere age of 13, and began competing against wrestlers in the local dangal who were almost 15kgs heavier than him. Encouraged by his father and brother who are also ex-wrestlers, Barjrang continues to write glorious chapters in his book with the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He has his eyes set out for more fearless training and many more accolades in the future.