So, the Olympic games fever has struck the world as it started in Tokyo Japan on 23rd July. Hope you have already read our last blog comprising of all the athletes in the Indian contingent in the Tokyo Olympics.
For India, we got the good news right on the next day when Chanu Saikom Mirabai won the first silver medal for India and got her name added to the list of Olympic medal winners of India.
We were in the works for publishing our previous blog when the news about Mirabai winning the medal came. So, we thought to publish our next blogs soon so that India can win many more medals.
Yes, we Indians can become a tad superstitious at times 😊.
So here we are, with the fact blog about the Olympic medal winners of India. In this blog, we have tried to capture all the medal winners of India from 1900 to 2016 (and hoping that 2021 will have a bigger tally).
India first sent the team for the Olympics in 1900 and then in 1920. Post-1920, India has sent teams to every summer Olympics. We have kept this blog limited to the Summer Olympic medal winners of India.
In the 1900 Olympics, only 1 athlete represented India. His name was Norman Pritchard. Although there are some debates around whether Norman Pritchard was from India or the United Kingdom, the International Olympic Committee still regards Norman as from India and hence he is the first among the Olympic medal winners of India.
He won 2 silver medals in Men’s 200m and Men’s 200m hurdles.
1920 & 1924 Olympics
The 1920 Olympics happened in Antwerp, Belgium, whereas the 1924 Olympics happened in Paris, France. But in both these Olympics, India failed to open its medal account as there were no Olympic medal winners for India.
1928 to 1980 Olympics (The Hockey Golden Era)
This was the golden period for India as India got medals in all these Olympic games except the 1976 Olympic games.
But the highlight of this era was the dominance of India in field hockey with the likes of Major Dhyan Chand and other hockey heroes bringing the medals associated with the field hockey event of the Olympics.
In the 12 Olympic games from 1928 to 1980 (as for 8 years games could not happen due to World Wars), India won 8 Gold, 1 Silver and 3 Bronze medals. Out of these, 11 medals came in from Hockey.
The only extra medal was a bronze medal that wrestler Khashaba Jadhav won in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and got his name added in the Olympic medal winners of India. But apart from this, all the other medals went to the Hockey team. Indeed, a golden run.
Another interesting fact that we had already covered in one of our previous blogs is that Milkha Singh, missed a bronze medal by a whisker in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
1984, 1988 & 1992 Olympics
After the golden run, there was a dull period of no medals for straight 3 Olympic games. Although we were pretty close to getting a medal on some occasions like P T Usha finished 4th in the Women’s 400m hurdle race. But then, as we say – a miss is a miss!!!
1996 & 2000 Olympics (The Bronze Age)
The 2 Olympic games of 1996 (Atlanta) and 2000 (Sydney) gave us a Bronze medal. Former Tennis star, Leander Paes emerged as the lone Olympic medal winner for India in the 1996 Olympic games.
It was a special medal as it took 44 years for an Indian to win a medal in an individual event for India. The medal also ended a lull period of medals since the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Just the next Olympics, we got our first woman Olympic medal winner from India. Karnam Malleshwari got a bronze medal for India in the women’s 69 kg weightlifting event.
The 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece, gave us the first-ever individual silver Olympic medal winner of India, Captain Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore. He got the silver in the Men’s double trap shooting event.
Anju Bobby George also came close to winning a medal as she finished 5th in the long jump event.
This was a rather successful Olympics from India’s point of view if we compare from the previous Olympics, as it gave us 3 individual Olympic medal winners from India. India won 1 Gold and 2 Bronze medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Abhinav Bindra became the first individual Gold medal winner for India when he won Gold in Men’s 10m air rifle event.
Likewise, Vijender Singh got us a Bronze medal in the Middleweight 75kg boxing event. This was India’s first medal in a boxing event.
Wrestler Sushil Kumar gave us the third medal in Men’s freestyle 66kg wrestling event.
The 2012 London Olympics by far has been the best performance by India in terms of the number of medals. India won 6 medals in this Olympics with 2 silver and 4 bronze medals.
Vijay Kumar won the first silver medal in the Men’s 25m rapid fire pistol shooting event. Sushil Kumar won the second silver in the men’s freestyle 66 kg wrestling event.
Gagan Narang won first bronze in men’s 10m air rifle event. Badminton star Saina Nehwal won the bronze in Women’s singles badminton event.
Mary Kom won the bronze in Women’s flyweight and Yogeshwar Dutt won Bronze in Men’s freestyle 60 kg wrestling event.
The latest completed Olympic games in 2016 gave India only a couple of medals. India won 1 silver and 1 bronze medal in the individual events.
The silver medal came in Badminton where P V Sindhu became the first woman in India to get a silver medal. The bronze medal came in for Sakshi Malik in the women’s 58kg wrestling event.
Hope you have already read our latest blog about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which also details, the Indian contingent for the Olympics. We already have Chanu Saikom’s name added in the Olympic medal winners of India. While we are writing this blog, we are sure of boxer Lovlina to wear at least a bronze medal.
There are also hopes lying on PV Sindhu as she will be playing bronze medal bout in Badminton. There are hopes in hockey as well where both women and men’s hockey teams have moved into the Quarter Finals. Kamalpreet Kaur has also made it to the Finals of Women Discuss Throw.
With all the hopes above, we also had big contenders who, after giving a strong fight could not come back to India with medals.
Although they could not be medal winners, qualifying for Olympics in itself is a big achievement and they surely have made India proud.
As a country of more than 1.2 billion people, the performance of India has been rather dismal in Olympic events. India has won in total 29 medals since 1900, with 9 Golds, 8 Silver, and 12 Bronze medals.
And then, we have individual legends like Michael Phelps of the US, whose performance in a single sport (23 gold medals, 28 total medals) over a brief period is better than India’s total run throughout the history of the Olympics.
Now, that’s a serious comparison. Although this blog is to celebrate the heroes of India, it also puts a thought in our mind about the lacunas in the sporting system of India.
This makes us think, probably we as a country have not given athletics its deserved attention. The need is to identify the gaps and work towards the best possible way out.
So, what’s the solution here? How can we improve on this?
The key lies in providing the right infrastructure, encouragement, and support to the budding talents. We need to identify these talents at the right time and provide them with the correct training. Something that we are doing very well in sports like cricket.
Remember Budhia Singh, the wonder boy from Odisha. He was the world’s youngest marathon runner when he ran 48 marathons at the age of five.
The talent got lost somewhere with time and probably the right guidance and proper infra would have confirmed another medal at Olympics.
The next possible solution lies with the mindset of people. Most of the parents do not support and acknowledge their child’s interest towards sport. In fact, we have proverbs supporting that
If you study hard, you will become king, but if you play hard, you will become bad
Although this mindset is gradually changing, this needs to be eliminated to have the right talent coming forward.
Anyways for now let us cherish the Olympic medal winners of India and hope that we increase the medal tally and India’s rank further ahead in Olympic 2021.
Thank You for reading it through. This is another step towards our idea of popularizing the Athletes and their contribution to Indian sports.
As we have mentioned in our last blog, the journey of India from being known as a Cricketing Nation to be popular as a Sports Nation is not easy and demands the same commitment from us for all the other sports.
It’s us who must decide the length and direction of this road towards the required destination.
So, as I stated last time, let us all come together and support the Olympic Journey of Team India by watching the Tokyo Olympics event, cheering them on social networks and supporting them in whatever way possible.
PS: If you love the post and like our work, please do viral this by sharing it among your friends and families.
We will see you next week with another amazing post. Until then…