Three of India's finest sporting champions gathered here on Sunday to wish the Indian Olympic contingent luck as part of Sportstar'sCheer for Team India campaign . Anju Bobby George (Athens 2004), Kenneth Powell (Tokyo 1964), and Nisha Millet (Sydney 2000) recounted their Olympic experiences before a rapt crowd at Mantri Mall.
"I was not well on the day of my event in Athens," recalled Anju, who finished fifth with a jump of 6.83 in the women's long jump at the 2004 Games. "I could not do my best and missed out on a medal. I also feel I was denied by Russian jumpers who were not clean."
The 39-year-old was hopeful that Ankit Sharma and Renjith Maheshwary, who have qualified in the men's long jump and triple jump respectively, would make the final. "If Ankit (8.19m) and Renjith (17.3) can repeat their performances, we can expect to see them in the final. But athletics is hard to predict, anything can happen on that particular day."
Millet believed India had the potential to outdo its 2012 performance, in Rio. "We won six medals in London. I'm hoping for nine this time. In athletes like Yogeshwar Dutt, Saina Nehwal and Abhinav Bindra we have people who have already won medals. It's also incredible to see someone like Dipa Karmakar, who has defied all expectations and qualified in gymnastics," she said.
Millet, who qualified for the women's 200m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics, urged the crowds to follow Olympic sports with greater interest. "Please start following Olympic sports as much as you follow cricket," she said. "Stay up late and make your kids watch the Olympics, it will be worth it. Your kids should follow Saina Nehwal as keenly as they did Sachin Tendulkar."
Powell, one of the finest sprinters of his generation in the country, spoke of India's chances in track and field events. "If Dutee Chand (100m) and Srabani Nanda (200m) can get to the semifinals, they'd have achieved something," the genial 76-year-old said. "But in athletics, our best chance is Vikas Gowda. He's already been in an Olympic final before; so if he's fit, we can hope for a bronze."
Powell, Millet and Anju inscribed their good-luck-messages on a giant banner that will be handed over to the Indian Olympic Association in Delhi before the Games.