It’s Olympic year, and the party this time converges in Rio, Brazil, for the most picturesque and carnival-type setting the Games could ask for. We take our pick of athletes from Australia and India, who have given us great moments in the past to remember them by, and who hold hopes for a medal in this year’s edition.
Despite murmurs of financial bankruptcy, the Olympics in Rio seem to be set to go as planned. The carnival of sports travels around the world and happens once every four years. It is the pinnacle of sport for any athlete to win a medal for his or her country, and this time, Australia and India are sending two crack teams that promise to bring back a few medals to their respective countries. We profile six of the best from the two countries who we think will do us proud.
1. Anna Meares – Australia – Track Cycling
Anna is Australia’s most successful track cyclist, who won a silver in Beijing in 2008. She has been named the flag bearer for the Australian Olympic team, and she will be the team captain throughout the games, which means that she will lead the proceedings and will represent Australia in all formal rituals at the games. She won her first Olympic gold in the 500 meters time trial at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and then won the sprint in 2012 in London. She will look forward to winning one more medal before she hangs up her boots.
2. Cate Campbell – Australia – Swimming
For Cate Campbell, who won two bronze medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics and a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics, winning a medal at Rio would be perfect, but she hastened to add that it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Referencing an old Disney movie, she said, ‘A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, then you will never be enough with it.’ Armed with this stoicism, the current world record holder in short and long course 100-meter individual freestyle is determined to enjoy her time in Rio, whether or not it results in a medal.
3. Mary Hanna – Australia – Equestrian Dressage
Australia’s oldest competitor for this Olympics at 61, Mary Hanna has represented her country at four Olympic Games in the equestrian discipline of dressage. Though she is yet to win a medal at the Games, we think that it’s wonderful that a lady of her age has qualified in any discipline to represent her country, and we include her in this list as a homage to her dedication, and we’re sure that she will do all in her power to bring back a medal.
4. Saina Nehwal – India – Badminton
India’s biggest hope in Rio for a medal is Saina Nehwal, who won the bronze at the 2012 event. This time she will be itching to go one better and bring home either a silver or a gold. Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu are also in the running for medals in badminton, though as the player with world championships to her name, Saina will carry the torch for this edition.
5. The Indian hockey teams, both men and women
There used to be a time when the Indian hockey team used to be the country’s bankable medal, back when hockey used to be played on grass. With the arrival of turf stadia, Indian hockey has dropped down the global pecking order, and the unthinkable happened in 2008, when the team failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. But since then, the men’s team has shown great progress, winning the silver medal in the Champions Trophy. A podium finish is not unthinkable for this Sardar Singh-led squad. On the women’s front, this is the first time a women’s hockey team has qualified for the Olympics, so that in itself is a huge shot in the arm. While they’re not expected to win a medal, it will be interesting to track their progress.
6. Leander Paes – India – Tennis
The perennial tennis player from India, who has competed in six Olympic Games so far, from 1992 to 2012. The Rio event will be his seventh. At age 43, Paes is still turning up to event after event, playing as well as ever, and notching up trophies in doubles and mixed doubles. He is India’s only individual tennis medal winner, and he won a bronze way back in 1996, when such occurrences were quite rare. His recent form indicates that he will bring back a medal of some sort for the country.