Rio: Indian contingent may be more than 100

rioIndia’s Olympics campaign for Rio 2016 got a major fillip on Tuesday when the number for qualifying athletes touched 86, crossing the mark of 83 four years ago in London.

India eclipsed the mark when seven badminton players confirmed their qualification for the biggest sporting event. That got another boost with two weightlifters earning quota places for the Games.

Seven players on the badminton courts in Rio will also be more than the five India had in the competition at London 2012. And the same good story of badminton continues in athletics, gymnastics, hockey, shooting and table tennis. 18 athletes have qualified so far in the track and field event compared to 14 in 2012. Also 12 shooters will travel to Rio as compared to 11 in London.

In a couple of firsts, it will be the maiden Olympics appearance for a woman gymnast from India as the 23-year-old Gita Karmakar created history a few days back.

In table tennis, India will see four paddlers taking part for the first time. In 2012, India was able to field only two.

And it will be only the second time in the history of the Games that the Indian women’s hockey team will be seen in action.

In fact, there’s been a significant surge in the number of women athletes qualifying for Rio. As compared to 23 at London, so far 38 sportswomen have already booked their Rio Olympics ticket.

The total number of qualifiers could very well swell to 100 with some berths expected in athletics, tennis, boxing and golf, which was not part of the 2012 edition.

“Qualification of as many as seven badminton players is a big boost and no doubt it will motivate others, who are trying to make the grade,” Rakesh Gupta, chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent to Rio, said in a press release.

“With some more names expected to make the grade, we could come very close to the figure of 100 athletes,” he added.

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