India's male boxing contingent is their large ever at the Olympics, with seven names featuring – Vijender Singh (75kg), Vikas Krishan (60kg), Shiva Thapa (56kg), Devendro Singh (49kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg). Of the seven, at least three are serious medal contenders – Vikas, Shiva and Vijender.
Vijender, who created history by winning bronze at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and thus becoming the first boxer to win a medal in Olympics for India, hasn't been at the top of his game in recent times, but his experience should hold him in good stead.
Asian Games gold medalist Vikas, should he perform to potential, is a distinct possibility for a medal even though he has limited exposure in tournaments abroad.
And though he is the youngest Indian boxer to ever qualify for an Olympics, the 18-year-old Thapa - whose achievements include gold medals at the Hyder Aliveye Cup in 2008 and the European Grand Prix in 2009, silver at the AIBA World Junior Boxing in 2010 - is also one of the most serious contenders.
And then there is MC Mary Kom, the only female Indian boxer at the Olympics. As women's boxing makes it debut at the quadrennial games, there is plenty of expectancy from the five-time world champion. Mary Kom lost in the quarterfinals of World Championship earlier this year, but having secured a place for herself in the Olympics she is determined to win a medal. It won't be easy, because her competition will be very tough in London, but this a world beater we're talking about. Expecting silver at the least wouldn't be an overestimation.
Realistic medal tally – 3
The buzz around India's shooting contingent for London is that it is the country's best yet and that the results will be better than Beijing. Of the 11-member unit, the big three are 2008 gold medalist Abhinav Bindra, ace 10m air rifle shooter Gagan Narang and world No. 1 double trap shooter Ronjan Sodhi.
Bindra's gold-winning feat in the Beijing Olympics will undoubtedly be the rallying point for Indian shooters in their quest to produce a better performance in London. He has been in good touch with impressive scores in the two competitions at the Training Camp London for select shooter in France this week, but having made a late entrance into the London games Bindra is aware of what lies ahead.
With over 13 individual gold medals to his credit, including four each at the last two editions of the Commonwealth Games, the 29-year-old Narang – appearing in his third Olympics - is seen as a serious medal contender. Some pundits are even saying he will go farther than Bindra in London.
While most eyes are on Bindra and Narang, Sodhi will be making his Olympics debut with the tag of the man to beat. Sodhi has been a model of consistency in the lead-up to qualification for London and having shed some excess kilos believes he has all bases covered.
Realistic medal tally – 2
Archery has never been a strong medal prospect for India at the Olympics, but signs are that this time will be different. India will be represented by six shooters – three men, three women – and each of them are in good form.
The brightest prospect is world No. 1 Deepika Kumari, who believes her experience and improved technique will be an asset against the Koreans who will be her toughest opponents. Since making her national debut in 2006 at the age of 12, Deepika's rise has been nothing short of spectacular and head coach Limba Ram believes she has a very good chance of claiming a medal in London. Winning an Olympic medal has been the 18-year-old Jharkhand archer's dream, and chances are strong for her creating history.
The men's recurve team, comprising Jayanta Talukdar, Rahul Banerjee and Tarundeep Rai, has enhanced India's chances of more than one medal. What stands out, apart from their form, is the fact that unlike most other teams India boasts a team of three archers of the same caliber. These archers have been shooting together for a lengthy period of time and have the knowledge and self-assurance to execute at crucial times. Talukdar, especially, is a great talent as proven with his past showing.
Realistic medal tally – 2
India's best chances of a medal lay on the broad shoulders of Sushil Kumar, who won a historic bronze in the 2008 Olympics and gold in the 2010 World Wrestling Championships.
The 66kg men's freestyle wrestler qualified for the Olympics a little late, and had an indifferent 2011 before he made a strong comeback to silence critics. His victory in the final of the Olympic qualifying tournament in Taiyuan, China, in April, over Georgian Otar Tushishvilli, also a Beijing Olympics bronze medalist, has given Sushil the confidence he needed heading to London.
Aggression has always been Sushil's forte and he believes India's wrestlers will do better than four years ago. Having recovered from an injury niggle, Sushil knows this is his last chance at an Olympic medal.
Sushil will be heading a five-member wrestling team – including Geeta Phogat - to London, out of which NarsinghYadav (74kg), Amit Kumar (55kg) and Yogeshwar Dutt (60kg), who won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, are also medal contenders. Of the three, Dutt appears the best bet to win a medal, though Yadav and Kumar cannot be discounted.
Phogat's coach OP Yadav belives the 23-year-old grappler, who beat Um Ji-Eun of Korea in the Asian Qualifying tournament in March to fetch the gold medal in the 55kg weight category and qualify for the Olympics, is a strong candidate for a medal.
Realistic medal tally – 2
Think of Indian badminton and only one name springs to mind – Saina Nehwal. And having beaten Chinese world No. 4 Shixian Wang and her compatriot and world No 3 Xuerui Li en route to her third Indonesia Open title in the last four year, Saina has become a strong medal prospect in London.
Saina can expect to play on slower courts in London, resulting in slower shuttle speed. In Indonesia the courts were faster, resulting in a more aggressive and risky style of play. At the Olympics the rallies will be longer which will test Saina. But having overcome her spell with injuries, Saina appears near to peak form ahead of her second Olympics.
Apart from Saina, the other possible medal winners are the world championship bronze medal-winning women's pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa. The Jwala-Ponnappa pairing has matured significantly, while the duo of Jwala and V Diju has been consistently among the best top mixed doubles teams. It's a long shot, but one of the two could bag a medal.
Realistic medal tally – 1
After the ugly row over AITA's Olympics pairing, fans of Indian tennis will hope Leander Paes and Sania Mirza bring home some silverware from London. The expectations from the men's and women's singles events are virtually non-existent, and neither are there many hopes from the men's doubles team of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna. The only realistic bet is the mixed doubles of Paes, 39, and India's top women's player, Mirza, who only recently said she was being used as "bait" to Pacify Paes.
Mirza won this year's French Open with Bhupathi and said in a statement that she was disillusioned after being "put up as bait to try and pacify one of the disgruntled stalwarts of Indian tennis," in a direct reference to Paes, who refused to comment on her statement or whether their relationship has been tarnished.
How the pair which won the gold medal at the Doha Asian Games in 2006 matches up to expectations remains to be seen, but there is a likely chance they will do India proud.
Realistic medal tally – 1