These young prospects could grab headlines in Tokyo and bring glory to the nation.

Teenage sporting stars often stand out due to their youthful exuberance. India has produced several young athletes who have won major honours at both the national and international level. Despite mixing it with the best, winning a medal in the grandest stage of them all is an altogether different challenge. This blood of youth may prove useful for the Tokyo Olympics.

This is evident from the fact that despite boasting several Olympic medal winners, none of them from India have managed to win it in their formative years. However, Tokyo Olympics could prove to be a different story. The country has now some of the finest teenage athletes in their respective sports, with all of them capable of writing a new chapter in the history books.

Let’s take a look at the top five teenagers who could clinch an Olympic medal in Tokyo:

5. Salima Tete

In 2018, Hockey Jharkhand defeated Hockey Haryana to lift the Junior National Women’s Championship title in Bhopal. Consistent performances in the domestic circuit have seen a surge in young players emerging from the tribal belt in Jharkhand. 19-year-old Salima Tete is one of them and has been a revelation for the Indian women’s hockey team.

The same year she was a crucial component of the silver-medal winning Indian team at the Youth Olympics. The young defender’s performances didn’t go unnoticed as she gained a callup to the senior team. In a short space of time, Tete has already racked up 29 international caps. She has established herself as a mainstay in the team and will be a core member of the Indian squad in Tokyo.

4. Anshu Malik

The 19-year-old is all set to participate in the 57kg weight category in women’s freestyle wrestling. Anshu’s first major international honour came in the World Cadet Wrestling Championships in Athens, Greece in 2017. That was followed by victory in the Asian Junior Championships in Chonburi, Thailand.

Earlier this year, she participated in the Asian Wrestling Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Anshu defeated South Korea’s Um Ji-eun, Kazakh wrestler Emma Tissina and Shokhida Akhmedova of Uzbekistan. Despite a loss in the final, a silver medal was enough to guarantee her place in Tokyo. Now she has her eyes set on scripting history in the Japanese capital.

3. Sonam Malik

Sonam Malik set the country buzzing by becoming the youngest Indian woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games. The 19-year-old won plenty of plaudits including that of ace Indian wrestler Vinesh Phogat. She has beaten Rio Olympics bronze-medallist Sakshi Malik several times, which goes onto show her immense potential irrespective of her age. Sonam, who is a close friend of Anshu, also won the World Cadet Wrestling Championships in her initial years.

At the Asian Wrestling Championships 2021, she ousted China’s Jia Long and Tsing Ping Pal of Chinese Taipei to reach the semis. Ayaulym Kassymova of Kazakhstan was taken down but she decided not to fight in the final as she got injured. However, that was enough to confirm her spot in Tokyo and all eyes of the country will be on her when she takes centre stage in the 62kg women’s freestyle wrestling.

2. Saurabh Chaudhary

Another teenager who could shine in Tokyo is 18-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary. The current world no. 2 in the 10m men’s air pistol, Chaudhary has made progress in leaps and bounds in recent years. His achievements at such a tender age are noteworthy.

Saurabh Chaudhary won gold at the 2018 Asian Games at 16 years old

Eight gold medals in the ISSF World Cup, coupled with gold medals in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and the 2018 Asian Games clearly proves his mettle. Chaudhary will be in a buoyant mood after winning gold in the recently concluded ISSF World Cup in New Delhi. The only Indian shooter to have gold medals from the ISSF World Cup, ISSF World Championship, Youth Olympic Games, Asian Games and Asian Air Gun Championship in his growing collection, will be hoping to now add the biggest prize of them all.

1. Manu Bhaker

The teenage shooting sensation has already captured the imagination of many in her burgeoning career. Now, Bhaker is all set to appear in her first-ever Olympics. The fact that India is banking on a 19-year-old for an Olympic medal in her debut Olympics speaks volumes about her abilities.

Bhaker is a nine-time gold medallist in the ISSF World Cup, along with two more gold medals in the Asian Shooting Championships and a 2018 Commonwealth Games gold in Gold Coast. The girl from Jhajjar, Haryana also claimed a gold medal at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Anything close to that in her first-ever Olympics in Tokyo would be a historic achievement indeed!

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