Ahoy! Olympics!

Amidst the financial gloom surrounding the Europe and unprecedented levels of unemployment tearing away at people’s lives, it is not easy to hold a mega-bucks sporting extravaganza like the Olympics.

The old city of London is ready to host its third Olympics in history, though the circumstances have made it to scale down the celebrations to more austere levels, far removed from the glitz and glamour of its predecessor Beijing Olympics.

But for over 10,000 athletes from 204 nations competing in 26 events what really matters is the honour to represent their countries at the highest level of competition and winning medals. In that sense, the London Games is no exception. Athletes like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Roger Federer are already part of the sporting legend, but at the English capital they will try to build on their legend by winning a gold, in the case of Phelps a few more gold medals!

But their path to glory is not smooth. Bolt has to ward off his compatriot Yohan ‘The Beast’ Blake and a strong field of some of the world’s fastest men — Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and Justin Gatlin, Phelps has Ryan Lochte in his way and Federer will in all likelihood face Serbian Novak Djokovic.

But the aroma of challenge has only helped to fire them up and reinvigorate their quest for that precious yellow metal. The Indian story is not too different. After the heydays of hockey team, India’s challenge in the Olympics has been reduced to tragic levels, but Abhinav Bindra’s gold in Beijing four years ago changed a nation’s outlook towards the quadrennial event. Now, there is a genuine hope among sportslovers of a good haul by Indians at London, and it’s not unfounded.

Golden boy Bindra remains India’s biggest hope, but this time a few others like Ronjan Sodhi and Manavjit Singh Sandhu share the nation’s expectations in the shooting event. Recent exploits have also made badminton star Saina Nehwal, who bowed out in quarterfinals at Beijing, a hot favourite to stand on the podium, while in wrestling Sushil Kumar promises to better his bronze-winning effort four years ago.

The Vijender Singh-led boxing contingent and archery squad, including world number one Deepika Kumari, too have the potential to satiate Indians’ ambitions for medals. So, prepare to enter the amphitheatre of wonderful dreams for the next 16 days!

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