The origin of the Olympic games dates back thousands of year’s ago but the modern Olympics started in the year 1896. The first modern Olympics took place in Athens, Greece. The 1896 Olympics had 280 participants from just 13 nations. Today the scenario is different, more than thousands of players from approx 196 countries participate in the Olympics.
India participated in Olympics for the first time in the year 1900 & from then on many players have made the country proud with their stunning performance & achievements.
Let’s take a look at the journey of Indians in the Olympics from 1900 – 2016.
Pre Independence Hockey: 3 gold medals
India was under the British Raj but Indians dominated the Olympics with their amazing achievements.
The Pre-Independence hockey team gave India major recognition at the global level. In 1928 during the Amsterdam Olympics Indian hockey team defeated the Netherlands 3 – 0 & won their first gold medal. The hockey team dominated the Olympics from 1928 to 1936.
In 1932, during the Summer Olympics India defeated the United States of America 24 -1. This is the largest margin of victory in the history of the Olympics. In 1936, again in the Summer Olympics India defeated Germany 8 – 1 & this is the largest margin of victory ever in the Olympic finals.
Major Dhyan Chand also known as ‘The Wizard’ was the greatest player ever of hockey & is credited with the domination of India in hockey.
Post-Independence Hockey: 5 gold, 1 silver & 2 bronze medals
As India became independent in the year 1947, the Post Independence Hockey team participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics. This Summer Olympics was special as it was the first for independent India & what’s more special is that the country which ruled India for over 2 centuries, Britain was defeated by India in the finals. The Indian hockey team won their first gold medal for India after independence.
In the 1956 Summer Olympics, India defeated Pakistan in the finals. In the 1960 Summer Olympics, the hockey team lost their winning streak & settled for the silver medal. In the 1964 Summer Olympics India again won gold.
First individual medal: Khashaba Jadhav (1952)
In 1952 at the Helsinki Olympics, wrestler Khashaba Jadhav made history by becoming the first Indian to win a medal in an individual sports.
First & only medal in Tennis: Leander Paes (1996)
In 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics, Leander Paes one of the most spectacular tennis players of India won a bronze medal. He reached the semi-finals but lost against Andre Agassi. Despite a defeat, Leander Paes achieved much more as he became the first & only Indian to achieve a medal in Tennis.
A truly resilient performance. @Leander Paes is the first Indian and only tennis player to compete at seven Olympic Games. At Atlanta 1996, he won bronze despite a severely injured wrist.
— Olympics (@Olympics) July 25, 2020
First Indian woman to win a medal: Karnam Malleswari (2000)
In the year 2000 at the Sydney Olympics weightlifter, Karnam Malleswari won a bronze medal under the 69kg weightlifting women’s category. She became the first Indian woman to win a medal.
First Indian to win a medal in shooting: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (2004)
In 2004 at the Athens Olympics Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the silver medal for shooting. He qualified for the medal with a score of 135 out of 150.
He became the first shooter from the country & also the first shooter to win a medal at the Olympics. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore has also served as the Sports Minister of India.
First individual gold winner: Abhinav Bindra (2008)
In 2008 at the Beijing Olympics shooter, Abhinav Bindra bagged a gold medal by finishing top in Men’s 10m Air Rifle category. Bindra had scored 700.5 points for victory.
Beijing Olympics (2008)
Apart from Abhinav Bindra’s gold medal in shooting, two more medals were achieved by Indians in the Beijing Olympics.
Wrestler Sushil Kumar won a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. It took 56 years to get a second medal in wrestling. Boxer Vijender Singh also won a bronze medal in boxing by reaching the semi-finals. Both the players were honoured with the Khel Ratna award, the highest sports honour of India.
London Olympics(2012): 4 bronze & 2 silver
The London Olympics is considered one of the best Olympics for India. Six medals were achieved in the 2012 Olympics. Shuttler Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal & became the first Indian athlete to win an Olympic bronze medal in the women’s singles.
Boxer Mary Kom had won two bronze medals, one for boxing & the other for the first-ever women’s flyweight event. Wrestlers Sushil Kumar & Yogeshwar Dutt both won a bronze medal. Shooters Vijay Kumar & Gagan Narang settled for silver & bronze medals respectively.
India had a dream and you fulfilled it! 🙏@MangteC became the first Indian women boxer to win a medal at the 2012 London @Olympics. #ThisDayThatYear #PunchMeinHaiDum
Pic Courtesy: MC Mary Kom pic.twitter.com/Jra5L4dLfr
— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) August 8, 2018
First woman wrestler to win a medal: Sakshi Malik (2016)
Wrestler Sakshi Malik won a bronze medal in the women’s freestyle 58kg category at the Rio Olympics. From a male-dominated country, in a male-dominated sport, Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a medal.
First woman to obtain silver medal: PV Sindhu (2016)
Shuttler PV Sindhu obtained a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. She became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the Olympics & also became the youngest Indian (21 then) to achieve this feat.
This was the journey of Indians in the Olympics from 1900 – 2016. As the Tokyo Olympics are about to start we can expect many more grand feats which can be achieved by Indian athletes.