With just two days to go for the sporting extravaganza and the 119-member strong Indian contingent all boosted up to fight for the coveted title, here is a list of athletes who unfortunately will be missing in action at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Sushil Kumar (Wrestling): The only Indian athlete to have won two individual Olympic medals for Independent India was for looking for a hat-trick this year. However, the decision of changing his weight category did not prove to be fruitful as deemed. Shifting from 66 kg to 74 kg meant more practice in the particular category and competing against new fellow wrestlers. Just months before Rio, he was involved in a fight with Narsingh Yadav. Narsingh won the quota, whereas Sushil hadn’t competed since the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Sushil wanted fair trials to be held and even moved the Delhi High Court. Ironically, they fought everywhere but except on the mat. His plea was eventually turned down, shattering his Rio dreams.
Parupalli Kashyap (Badminton): Commonwealth Games Gold medalist, Parupalli Kashyap will be a big name missing from the badminton arena. India’s leading male badminton player saw his Olympic dreams go up in smoke after a serious knee injury which could not be healed in time to push up his world ranking to the Top 16. This would have ensured a second Olympic outing for the 29-year-old from Hyderabad. Considering Kashyap made the quarter-finals of the last edition of the Games in London, he would have been someone to watch out for.
Vijay Kumar (Shooting): Another medalist of London 2012 Olympics Vijay Kumar failed to book a berth in the Olympic Qualifying Competition in January this year. This 30-year-old army marksman is perhaps going through a grey phase since winning the silver in 2012. The 25m rapid fire pistol shooter had to undergo two surgeries, a complete rehabilitation process and an overhaul of his technique due to a slipped disc that he suffered in 2014.
Ronjan Sodhi (Shooting): The Former World Number 1 and Asian Games champion, who won the National Games double trap gold in Kerala last year was one of the big hopes in London four years ago. However, he failed to make it to the final. Just like Vijay Kumar who is still recuperating from ill health, this 36-year-old double trap shooter has been out of form for a while now, failing to make the squad for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014. Being one of the most experienced shooters in the country his presence is sure to be missed.
MC Mary Kom (Women’s Boxing): The first Indian female boxer to win an Olympic medal and the biggest name in Indian women’s boxing. MC Mary Kom who won a bronze medal in London four years ago, lost in the second round of the World Championship in May this year, thereby failing to book an Olympic berth. The All India Boxing Association tried to get a wild card for Mary but to no luck. Boxers from other countries managed to book a berth a few weeks before Rio but Mary had to bear the brunt of alleged mismanagement from the association costing her maybe another medal.
Yuvraj Walmiki (Hockey): Almost poster boy of Indian Hockey and the first hockey player to compete in a reality show Khatron Ke Khiladi in 2015, Yuvraj Walmiki is not uncommon to strange selections. He has always been in controversies for his sudden pick-up for the squad and drop-outs. One of the finest strikers in Indian Hockey circuit finds his Olympic dream nowhere in the offing. London Olympics 2012 could not happen considering his hamstring injury then. Yuvraj marked a return at the 2012 Champions Trophy in Melbourne and even scored in India’s 3-1 over England and was dropped in the same month for the 2012 Asian Champions Trophy at the eleventh hour after being originally picked in the side. He was denied a national berth for the whole of 2013 (missed five tourneys that year) before being picked in the side for the 2014 Hockey World League Final Round in New Delhi, where he scored against Australia.
He was again overlooked for the 2014 World Cup and was picked as an injury cover for Nikkin Thimmaiah. Yuvraj did not play for the remainder of 2014, missing major events like Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Champions Trophy. On the contrary, another Walmiki is living his long cherished dream and doing his brother proud.
Their absence would definitely be felt and their participation would not just have made to a larger contingent but also to an increase in the medal tally.