Paes, Bindra, Yogeshwar: Last Chance for Six Indians at Rio?

The Quint takes a look at the six Indian athletes who will probably be participating in their last Olympics.

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Abhinav Bindra of India (L) and Gagan Narang (R). (Photo: Reuters)

The Rio Olympics 2016 is a little over a week away and India seems to be ready with its biggest ever contingent. The team has quite a few names who have been the face of Indian sports and will probably be playing their last Olympics at Rio.

The Quint takes a look at six Indian athletes who may take part in their last Olympics this year.

1. Abhinav Bindra

Winner of the 10m Air Rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Bindra will always be remembered as the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympics. Bindra, also the winner of the 2006 ISSF World Shooting, is the first and the only Indian to have won the world and the Olympic title.

Abhinav Bindra. (Photo: Reuters)
Abhinav Bindra. (Photo: Reuters)

Rio 2016, however, will be his last Olympics as the 33-year-old Indian announced his retirement after the event. Bindra, who will have his fifth Olympic outing this year, announced his retirement via Twitter after he was named the flag bearer of the country.

He qualified for the Rio games when he finished sixth in the 10m Air Rifle final at the Munich World Cup in May. He did not have a decent outing in the last Olympics (London 2012) where he lost in the qualification round, finishing 16th with a score of 594. Even though he isn’t having a brilliant run of late, one still expects him to end his career with another medal.

2. Gagan Narang

One of the most celebrated shooters from India, Gagan Narang, won a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics in the 10m Air Rifle event, and booked his Rio berth by winning the bronze at the Fort Benning World Cup in May 2015. It might also be the last Olympic outing for the 33-year-old.

Gagan Narang. (Photo: Reuters)
Gagan Narang. (Photo: Reuters)

Narang hasn’t been in the best of form in the run-up to the Olympics. Since the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the shooter has taken part in seven World Cups and has had a podium finish only once.

3.Vikas Gowda

Vikas Godwa shot to fame when he clinched a Gold for India in the 2014 Commonwealth Games with a throw of 63.64m, which also made him the second Indian man to win an athletics gold, 56 years after Milkha Singh won the men’s 440 yards at the Cardiff 1958 Games.

Vikas Gowda. (Photo: AP)
Vikas Gowda. (Photo: AP)

He also made it to the finals of the 2012 London games but finished 8th in the standings. With the man from Karnataka entering his late 30s, the 2016 Rio games might be his last Olympics and Indian fans would expect him to give his best shot and clinch a medal for the country.

He qualified after the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) lowered the entry standards for athletes in order to have more of them participate in the track and field events during the games and if he manages a medal, India might have a realistic chance of achieving the double figure mark in the medals tally.

4. Yogeshwar Dutt

Yogeshwar Dutt became the second Indian wrestler to book a quota for Rio in the 65kg Free Style category at the Asian Olympic qualifier in Astana in Kazakhstan. The 2012 edition Bronze medal winner may not take part in another Olympics, and thus Rio would actually be his last bet for his second medal.

And with Sushil Kumar not making it to the coveted event, India’s realistic chance of winning a wresting medal is actually banking on the 33-year-old wrestler from Haryana.

Yogeshwar Dutt. (Photo: Reuters)
Yogeshwar Dutt. (Photo: Reuters)

5. Sardara Singh

For the first time since 1980, the Indian field Hockey team has a realistic chance of winning a medal at the Olympics. The team made the cut for the Olympics courtesy a gold medal win at the 2014 Asian Games where they defeated arch-rivals Pakistan in the final.

Sardara Singh. (Photo: PTI)
Sardara Singh. (Photo: PTI)

In what is called the re-birth of Indian hockey, the team managed a silver medal at the Champions Trophy at London. They were playing on the same ground where four years ago they finished last in the Olympics.

India’s former captain Sardara Singh may play his last Olympics this year. He made his debut back in 2003 and in 2008 became the youngest Indian to captain the hockey team. 

6. Leander Paes

Last but surely not the least; it might very well be the last Olympics for Leander Paes. The winner of the singles bronze medal in 1996 Atlanta edition of the games, Paes today is more vividly known as a specialist doubles player and in Rio, the 43-year-old will pair with the highest ranked doubles player of India, Rohan Bopanna in a quest for a medal.

(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

This will be the veteran’s seventh Olympics and what would be a better way of to sign off but a gold medal? Though there were initial hiccups with the duo as Bopanna chose Saketh Myneni over Paes, things look settled at least on paper now as the pair head to Rio.

When asked about Rohan Bopanna, Paes said:

Rohan (Bopanna) and I are the best possible combination. We are playing at a very high level. My career speaks for itself and Rohan has also been doing well in the last 18 months. We both are ready and without a shadow of doubt, me and Rohan are the best team.
Leander Paes

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