New Delhi, Jun 13 (IANS): India had 56 competitors at the Beijing Olympics four years ago. The number has risen to 76 and is expected to be 85 at the July 27-August 12 London Games.
In 13 events, 56 men and 20 women have booked their Olympic berths and the number is expected to go up further as quite a few disciplines are still in the process of holding their qualifiers. Sports minister Ajay Maken expects it to be 85.
The Beijing number came down drastically because the Indian hockey team failed to qualify. This time around the eight times Olympic champions are through ad a 16-member squad has been named.
The expectations will be high from the 11 shooters, five wrestlers and eight boxers. Rifle shooter Abinav Bindra, who won India's first individual gold medal in Beijing, will be looking for an encore. Another rifle shooter Gagan Narang and shot-gun exponent Ronjan Singh Sodhi are also potential medal prospects.
Among the wrestlers, Beijing Games bronze medallist Sushil Kumar and 2012 Asian champion Yogeshwar Dutt are medal hopes.
While boxer Vijender Singh, a bronze medallist in Beijing, five times women's world champion M.C.Mary Kom are also potential medal winners. For Mary Kom this is the first and definitely last opportunity to return with a medal from London. She can't ask for a better platform than to end her illustrious career on a high. Women's boxing has been included in the Olympics for the first time.
The government has spent around Rs.238 crores on training the athletes and an additional Rs.20 crores on foreign coaches.