Given the drug-related embarrassments of the past year though, most Indians will be happy if the team return home having avoided any such headlines, medals would be a bonus.
India hopes for happy Olympic headlines from London
PT Usha, the first Indian woman to reach an Olympic finalwho missed out on a bronze medal in the 400m hurdlesby one-hundredth of a second in Los Angeles in 1984, grew up hearing stories about Indian athletics' golden generation.
At Rome in 1960, Milkha Singh had missed a medal in a photo finish, in a 400m race where the first two past the line smashed the world record.
Four years later in Tokyo, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, another Sikh, placed fifth in the 110m hurdles.
At Montreal in 1976, Sriram Singh led Alberto Juantorena at the bell in the 800m, only to be overhauled down the back straight. Juantorena went on to a world record. Sriram finished seventh.
Until Usha came along, that was as good as it got.
It has not got better in the three decades since, and the 14-strong India athletic contingent that has journeyed to London harbours little hope of a medal of any sort. Tintu Luka, Usha's protege, who won bronze in the 800m at the Asian Games in 2010, is an outside chance, although she will have to improve substantially on her best time (1:59:17) to have any chance.
The other medal hope is Krishna Poonia, who led a sweep of the discus medals at the Commonwealth Games two years ago and went over 64m for the first time in May, but as three women have crossed 68m this year, her task is huge.
Given the drug-related embarrassments of the past year though, most Indians will be happy if the team return home having avoided any such headlines.
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