As the curtains come down on the qualification events for the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo, India will be sending a strong contingent of 115 athletes who will be competing across 18 different sports. Here is a look at the events and categories where India will be making its debut for the first time ever, and the athletes who will be scripting history in doing so. Here’s also a look at some other significant firsts for India in the upcoming Olympics.
Swordplay has been practiced for thousands of years, with the first guilds organised by the Germans in the 15th century. The sport has been part of the Olympics since its inception in 1896, but will witness an Indian compete for the first time ever in Tokyo.
Bhavani Devi has made history as the first-ever Indian fencer to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. She will be competing in the women’s individual sabre event. She qualified through the Adjusted Official Ranking (AOR) method. She currently ranks 42nd in the world rankings and is 1st in the country. She had earlier won Indian its first international gold medal in fencing at the Women’s World Cup in 2017, and is a 9-time national champion.
Sailing was first officially recognised as a sport in 1851 and was included in the Olympics in 1900. While India has earlier contested in the men’s category, this will be the first time India will be featuring in the women’s event.
Nethra Kumanan is all set to make history as the first- ever Indian female sailor to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She specialises in the Lacer Radical Class of sailing. She has earlier represented India at the 2014 and 2018 Asian games. She also won India the bronze medal at the 2020 sailing World Cup. She is also the first ever Indian sailer to earn a direct berth to the Olympics through a qualification event. 9 other sailors who have earlier represented India in the Olympics made it to fill up the quotas that could not be occupied. She is currently ranked 71 in the world under her category.
Equestrian is a sport which originated in Ancient Greece. Equestrian has been a regular event at the Olympics since 1900. India has earlier participated in the sport, twice in 1996 and 2000. India is set to make a comeback appearance in the sport for the first time after a long dry spell spanning 2 decades.
Fouaad Mirza sealed his spot in the Tokyo Olympics after he achieved the necessary Minimum Eligibility Requirement (MER) on both his horses, Seigneur Medicott and Dajara, in the CCI44 in the eventing competition Poland. He qualified after he finished first in the South East Asia, Oceania group. He has earlier won silver medals in both the individual eventing and the team eventing at the 2018 Asian Games, and was also a recipient of the Arjuna award in 2019. He is currently ranked 78th in the FEI Eventing World Athlete Rankings.
Swimming was not widely practised until the early 19th century, when the National Swimming Society of Great Britain began to hold competitions. Swimming has been part of the modern Olympics games since its first began in 1896. India has been participating in swimming since the pre- independent era, however this is the first time an Indian female swimmer will be participating in the Olympics. On the other hand, the Indian male swimmers have qualified by making the ‘A cut’ for the first time.
Maana Patel has become the first Indian female swimmer to qualify for the Olympics, through the ‘Universality quota’. She will compete in the women’s 100m backstroke event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The University quota allows one male and one female competitor from a country to participate in the Olympics, provided no other swimmer from the same gender qualifies for the Games or receives a FINA invite based on the in their Olympic Selection time.
Sanjan Prakash has broken the glass ceiling to become the first- ever Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympic Games. He clocked 1:56:38 seconds in the men’s 200m butterfly event at the Sette Colli Trophy in Italy, last week, thereby breaching the ‘A’ standard time (1:56:48) to seal his berth at the Olympics.
Srihari Nataraj has also breached the ‘A’ standard time after he swam 53.77 seconds in the 100m backstroke time trials, and has now booked his maiden Olympics berth. His qualification has been approved by FINA- the world body of aquatics.