Amit Panghal looked dapper in a blue bandhgala outside the Games Village, waiting for the official transport to take him and others to the Olympic Stadium for the opening ceremony on Friday evening.
The 52kg boxer is lucky to be a part of the modest celebration that will open Tokyo 2020 as his first round is only on July 31, his top billing as world No.1 having ensured a first round bye. One of India’s best medal prospects, Panghal’s steady final build-up contrasted with that of India’s lone weightlifter at the Games, Mirabai Chanu, also a strong medal contender.
TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020: FULL COVERAGE
Chanu, the 2017 48kg world champion and world No.2 in 49kg, her competition division in Tokyo, can win India’s first medal at the Games on Saturday. On the eve of her big event, it was all about feeling inspired and confident.
She was a favourite at the 2016 Rio Olympics too, but failed to win a medal. In the next four years, she has won many laurels, and for motivation watched the videos of two such victories—the 2019 Commonwealth championships where she won gold, and this year’s Asian championships where she set a clean and jerk world record of 119kg. She finished third with her overall 205kg – a personal best.
Getting her weight right was also on top of her agenda as she had to shed two kg in the last two days. Lighter by one kg on Friday, Chanu had light breakfast, skipped lunch and had a light dinner after checking the weight in the evening.
Then it was time to discuss the final strategy with her coach, the progression of weights to attempt, the most crucial in a competition. With such a massive test ahead, she ended the day with a video call to her family members that soothed her nerves. It has been close to two years since meeting her family with extensive training tours (she trained in the US for two months in the build-up to Tokyo). If she brings home a medal, it would be reward worthy of all her sacrifces.
Besides Chanu, shooters too can make it a glorious start for India at the Olympics. In women’s 10m air rifle, Apurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan are in contention on Saturday.
On the pre-event training day, competitors get to shoot from their lane they will get in competition. Apurvi will be on lane 10 and Elavenil on 24. On Friday, they were up at 4:30am, had breakfast by 5:30 and reached the training venue at around 7. From 8:30 to 9:20 they went through their final training session.
They were back at the Games Village by noon. And what better way to round up the day than take a stroll in the evening on the picturesque Village Plaza with a large creek as the background.
The two shooters have stuck to this routine since reaching Tokyo on July 17. Even when their training sessions were only in the evening, they would go to the range in morning, do holding practice for some time, stay back for training in the evening.
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