A sports analytics company recently predicted India's medal tally at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at 14, with a breakup of one gold, five siver and eight bronze medals. How many medals will they realistically win at the Games? India's best-ever tally at the Olympics is six -- recorded at the 2012 London Games. Can they better it this time? And who are India's biggest medal prospects? Here are our writers' way-too-early predictions.
Sharda Ugra is a senior editor for ESPN India and ESPNcricinfo.
My prediction: Five
Shooting, wrestling, boxing, badminton and weightlifting/ athletics: The medals will come from these sports, choose whatever break-up you fancy. On optimistic days, two golds appear possible. On realistic days, even a single one would send the country into paroxysms of delight and Abhinav Bindra's sigh of relief will be audible across the oceans. If there is any elbow Indian sport pins its hope and dreams on, it is Neeraj Chopra's. Right there, in that elbow, rests the decades-old Indian dream of an Olympics medal from athletics. For the out-of-the-box stuff, what fun if Bhavani Devi makes it to Tokyo and does a Dipa.
Debayan Sen is senior assistant editor for ESPN India.
My prediction: Four
I think India will win at least one gold medal, and we will look back and reflect on a few near misses in sporting disciplines that we would not have normally accounted for before. As for the breakup of these four medals, I expect two to come from shooting. The Indian shooting contingent has come a long way since a poor outing in Rio, and the younger shooters have led that charge. The elusive gold might even come from them. The other sport I expect a medal from is wrestling - Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat have been on top of their game in the last couple of years, and hopefully at least one of them will kick on and stave off the fierce competition (expect Japan to be competitive across all categories) to pick up a medal.
The fourth could come from an unexpected source, though the most favoured category for that would be either badminton or boxing. An athletics medal would be smashing, while I personally would love for India's four-decade-old hockey duck to be broken.
Mohit Shah is a sub-editor for ESPN India.
My prediction: Six
India's best-ever display at the Olympics came in London 2012, when they won six medals, and they might well go on to equal that in Tokyo 2020. It is worth noting that the 2018 Asian Games was India's most successful at the continental showpiece event and their display at the 2018 Commonwealth Games was their third-best ever and second best outside India.
I think India will win at least three medals in shooting (with the medals coming in the 10m air rifle women, 10m air pistol men and 10m air pistol/ air rifle mixed team event) and two in wrestling (through Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat/Pooja Dhanda); call it the optimism of youth. The last medal could come from any of the following sports: weightlifting, athletics, boxing and badminton but I'd be very surprised if the badminton contingent doesn't deliver a medal. While Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu have the experience and pedigree to be among the favourites, don't rule out the men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.
Susan Ninan is a correspondent for ESPN India.
My prediction: Six
In the sporting universe ruled by fine margins, signing up for early predictions can always be risky business. Between now and the Olympics, a year away, forms could dip and injuries could wreck but if I had to pick one sport which appears primed for success it would have to be shooting. The 10m pistol mixed team of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker would be at the top of that heap. The remaining medals are likely to be won from among wrestling, weightlifting, boxing, athletics and badminton. Despite his injury, surgery, lack of competitions and hulking Germans heaving 90m plus, I'd faithfully cling to the hope that Neeraj Chopra still remains a contender.
Jonathan Selvaraj is a correspondent for ESPN India.
My prediction: At least six and up to ten
Five medals just in shooting is in no way a long shot. India has the best women's air rifle shooter in the world in Apurvi Chandela. Anjum Moudgil is only a little ways behind and even if she doesn't get on the podium in the individual events, she will almost certainly do so in the mixed team along with Divyansh Panwar. If as expected India qualify another men's air rifle shooter for the Olympics, it's more than likely that there will be two pairs of Indians on the mixed team podium. Another mixed team medal is almost a certainty in the air pistol category through the combination of Saurabh Chaudhary and Manu Bhaker. Saurabh though need not even depend on the team event, he's shaping up to be India's best bet at the Olympics across all disciplines.
A medal in weightlifting will depend on the kind of competitors Mirabai Chanu will face. Should China opt out of the category as they did in Rio, and the Manipuri manages just to lift cleanly, she should finish on the podium. Another three medals should come through PV Sindhu in badminton, and Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat in wrestling. Bajrang is one of the most physically gifted wrestlers in the 65kg category while Vinesh Phogat will almost certainly feature in a medal bout. It's unlikely that India will medal in athletics, but I wouldn't bet against at least one medal between boxing or archery.