New Delhi, June 29 (IANS) Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Secretary General Rajeev Mehta caused a flutter on Wednesday by saying that he was hopeful the country will bag 15 medals at the Rio Olympics.
In London Olympics, India bagged a historic six medals, the highest ever tally, but if Mehta is to be believed the haul will be more than double in Rio.
Mehta then went on to name a few athletes who he felt are the most likely medal contenders.
"Saina Nehwal (in badminton), shooter Jitu Rai, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza in mixed doubles tennis, men's hockey team, boxer Vikas Krishan, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and golf are the possible medal contenders. Apart from that, archery and athletics also stand a chance. I am confident we will reach our target," Mehta claimed.
But unlike in 2012, when eight boxers had qualified, only three have managed to bag Olympic qualification this time.
The wrestlers have also disappointed with the number travelling to Rio less than last time. Since wrestling and boxing are the main medal winning disciplines for India along with shooting, the IOA's target appears to be a bit far fetched.
But Mehta seems to be out of touch with reality. From 1900 to 2012, India have so far managed a total of 26 medals with three in 2008, one each in 2004, 2000 and 1996 while failing to open the tally from 1984 to 1992.
Eclipsing the 83, who represented India in London Olympics, so far more than 100 athletes have qualified for this year's Games but chef de mission of the contingent Rakesh Gupta said he expected the number to rise.
"Also till now more than 100 Indian athletes have qualified and I am hopeful it will cross 115 to 120 in the run-up to the Games. We are hopeful of more qualification in golf, aquatics and athletics."
Asked if Bollywood superstar Salman Khan will continue as the Goodwill Ambassador of the contingent after making that "rape" comment, Mehta said: "Yes, he remains our brand ambassador.