Olympic Countdown: The Rise of Beginners | Photo credit: IANS

The motto behind the Olympic Games is participation, not victory. And that is why, very often, the latest arrivals are cheered by the crowds and become part of Olympic folklore.

Not all of the expected 11,000 participants who would gather at the Olympics will be able to win medals, but they will compete to the best of their ability – exercising every muscle in their body to achieve personal goals like setting personal bests, eclipsing records. nationals or win a match.

So while Indian fans will focus on the big stars in shooting, boxing, badminton, weightlifting, wrestling, tennis and track and field, there will be many who will do their jobs diligently and enthusiasm in doing their best, for they have already achieved their goal by going to the Olympics.

Take the case of CA Bhavani Devi, who is the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. Or, moreover, Fouaad Mirza, who will be the first Indian in equestrian competition since 2008, or Nethra Kumanan, the first Indian sailor to qualify for the Olympics. Or judoka Shushila Likmabam (48 kg women), silver medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

There will be others like sailors Vishnu Saravanan (radial class) and KC Ganapathy-Varun Thakkar (49er men) who will compete in their first Olympics. Joining them for the first time will be rowers Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh (two men’s lightweight pairs) and golfer Udayan Mane. Golfer Anirban Lahiri will compete in his second Olympics.

Swimmers Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj also made history by becoming the first two to secure direct entry to the Olympics with an “A” qualifying score. Prakash was first in the 200m butterfly at the Sette Coli competition in Rome, Italy last month and Nataraj did so on the last day of qualifying with an “A” score in the 100m backstroke.

While all are hoping to make the most of their chances and at least get into the medal race, however, the focus will be on Bhavani Devi, Mirza and Nethra Kumanan.

Bhavani Devi is the first Indian fencer to win gold at a World Cup event – winning the individual saber competition in Reykjavik, Iceland in May 2017. She has won numerous medals at the Commonwealth Championships and at the Asian Championships and is currently ranked 42nd in saber. individual.

The 27-year-old daughter of a Chennai temple priest, Bhavani almost quit the sport in 2016, unable to bear the high cost of playing a little-known sport in India. A sponsorship from the GoSports Foundation has been a boon to her.

Like Bhavani, Mirza, the first Indian to qualify for the Olympics since Beijing 2008, will make his Olympic debut.

Supported by Embassy International Riding School Bangalore, Mirza qualified for qualification in May 2021 when he finished second in an event in Poland.

But the road to Tokyo was not easy for Mirza either – he had suffered a lockdown in Germany, where he is stationed, several canceled events and an injury to his main horse, Lord Medicott, who was shot down by an injury. for almost two years, to make the cut.

At the Tokyo Games, Mirza will participate in the Individual Eventing. He won two silver medals, one each in individual eventing and team competition at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta. It’s his consistent performance recently that has earned him a spot based on his ranking.

The journey was also arduous for Radial Laser Class Mariner Nethra. The 23-year-old went through the Asian qualifying event in Oman and her family had to endure a lot to support her passion for sailing. The first Indian sailor to win a World Cup medal, Nethra represented the country at two Asian Games and competed in the 2020 World Cup. Although nine sailors have represented India at the Olympics, she will be the first to stand qualify directly for the mega event.

Qualified for Tokyo, these athletes hope to be the first Indians in their respective sport to win an Olympic medal. The task is arduous but not impossible.

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