Jitu Rai, shooting
It takes a special talent to go from an absolute unknown in 2013 to a World Championship silver medallist, world No.1 and Commonwealth Games gold medallist in 2014. Jitu Rai had never been to an ISSF World Cup till 18 months ago, and now he has a collection of one World Cup gold and two silver medals, won within two weeks of each other in Munich and Maribor this year. Jitu is currently the world No.1 in 10m air pistol and world No.5 in 50m ‘free’ pistol, and clinched the free pistol silver at the World Championships last week. His CWG gold also came in free pistol, which is his more favoured event.
P.V. Sindhu, badminton
It has been a stellar year for Sindhu who has won four bronze medals in major competitions-Asian Championships, Uber Cup, Commonwealth Games and World Championships. Though she was a bit disappointed at not being able to do justice to her favourite and second seed tag in Glasgow after Saina Nehwal’s pullout, she was able to defend her bronze medal at the worlds. At the world meet, she defeated current World No.2 and All England Champion Wang Shixian of China in the semifinal, an opponent against whom Sindhu has a comfortable 4-2 headto-head win-loss record. It would stand her in good stead at the Asian Games. She has been able to take the workload physically in marathon matches during the Uber Cup and the World Championships.
Deepika Kumari, archery
She has been the poster girl of Indian archery for the last four years, and even though she endured a dip in form in the first half of 2014, Deepika Kumari will be expected to rise to the occasion against the best in the continent.
Deepika tried a new bow and changed her technique, but that seemed to have an adverse effect on her results. She even failed to make the Indian team for two of the four World Cups. It is at this juncture that her childhood coach Dharmendra Tiwary came to the aid of the 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
A return to the old bow and technique seemed to put the 20-year-old Jharkhand girl back on track. Not only did Deepika make it to the team for the World Cup – Stage IV in Poland, she returned with three medals, including a gold in the women’s recurve team event. A confident Deepika is good news for India as they take on the might of the Koreans on their home turf.
Mary Kom, boxing
Mary Kom’s defeats at the 2010 Asian Games, the 2012 world championships, the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 Commonwealth Games trials are not the best indicators to prove that she can clinch gold in Incheon. The 31-yearold struggled after switching to the 51kg category four years ago. But given the fact that China’s threetime world champion Ren Cancan has proved to be the only potential threat to her and other Asians are yet to make a good impression in 51kg category, Mary can dream of golden glory in the South Korean city.
Yogeshwar Dutt, wrestling
Yogeshwar will spearhead India’s campaign and aim for gold. The Olympic bronze medallist competed at a major international event after almost two years but came out with flying colours at the Commonwealth Games winning gold in the 65kg. In Glasgow, he employed his signature ‘Fitele’ (leg-twisting technique) to great success and won his bouts quickly. Yogeshwar had to change his weight class from 60kg to 65kg and there were doubts whether the seasoned wrestler would be able to cope with the demands. But in two international tournaments he has played so far this year, he has won gold.
Avinab Bindra, shooting
There is more to Abhinav Bindra than his Beijing Olympics gold medal, though that achievement did more for the recognition of Olympic sport in India than anything else in history. Abhinav, 31, is one of only three Indians to win World Championship gold medals as of September 15, 2014, the others being Manavjit Sandhu (trap 2006) and Tejaswini Sawant (women’s prone 2010). According to most shooters, the World Championship is a tougher event than the Olympics due to the strength of the field (three shooters per nation). Bindra won the air rifle in Zagreb, Croatia, in 2006. While he narrowly missed the final at the World Championships in Granada, Spain, last week, Bindra finally broke his jinx of not winning the CWG individual gold in Glasgow.
Devendro Singh, boxing
Manipur boxer Laishram Devendro Singh was an undiscovered jewel till he shot to fame by reaching the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Championships. The performance earned him a spot in the 2012 London Olympics, where he proved it was no fluke, reaching the lasteight stage. He asserted his class, defeating the 2009 world champion PÃ¼revdorjiin Serdamba of Mongolia in the second round. He reminded fans of his brilliance by winning a silver at the 2013 Asian championships. Devendro won silver at Glasgow. The southpaw may face an uphill task in Incheon since he has the current world champion Birzhan Zhakypoc from Kazakhstan & 2012 Olympic silver medallist Kaeo Pongprayoon of Thailand in his weight class.
Vikas Gowda, discus throw
Vikas Gowda became the first Indian man since Milkha Singh 56 years ago to win a CWG track and field gold when he won the discus event in Glasgow.
The 6’9″ powerhouse was grew up in Maryland, USA. His personal best is 66.28 metres, achieved in 2012. He won the CWG silver four years ago in New Delhi and the bronze at the Guangzhou Asiad. Gowda had qualified for the final at the London Olympics with a throw of 65.20m. He finished eighth with a best throw of 64.79m and is a strong contender for gold in Incheon.
Swaran Singh Virk, rowing
The Punjab boy, hailing from Mansa, has climbed the ranks pretty fast almost overshadowing the seasoned Bajrang Lal Takhar when it came to representing India in men’s single sculls event. At the Asian Senior Rowing Championships in September last year, Swaran clinched a gold medal. Bajrang had won a historic gold at the Guangzhou Asian Games in men’s single sculls, the first gold for an Indian rower at the continental meet. But since then Swaran has taken over the mantle from him and is strong contender for a gold medal at the Asian Games in Incheon. He has competed at the Incheon venue thrice which will be an advantage to him.
Amit Kumar Dahiya, wrestling
The switch to 57kg from 55kg and the change in format to two periods of three minutes each has hardly made any difference to Amit. In fact, he says the increase in weight class has been an advantage to him. At the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he gave a clinical performance to win gold. It was his maiden participation in a multi-discipline event but the 20-year-old was not deterred. He thus added to his kitty of silver at the world championships, and gold at the Asian Championships which he won last year. Hailed as the next big thing in Indian wrestling, Amit has scaled the heights very fast and is known in the fraternity for his unflinching dedication towards the game and the hours he puts in practice.
courtesy: mail today