Olympics Games are one of the leading international sporting events with more than 200 countries participating in it. This sporting event features summer and winter sports competitions, with athletes coming to participate from all over the world. At present, the Olympic Games consists of 35 different sports, 53 disciplines, and more than 400 events.
The creation of the Olympic games was inspired by the Greece game Olympia which was held from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern games in Athens in 1896. The IOC is the governing body of the Olympic Movement, with the Olympic Charter defining its structure and authority.
INDIA before Independence
The first appearance of India in the Olympics was in the year 1900, it was not a team but a lone athlete Norman Pritchard a British Indian origin actor. This game was held in Paris, he won two silver medals in athletics. Thus, making India the first Asian nation to win an Olympic medal.
After that in the year 1920, India in Olympics was represented by a national team in the Summer Olympics. Since then, India has never missed any Summer Olympics. The team comprised of three athletes, two wrestlers, and managers Sohrab Bhoot and A.H.A. Fyzee. The President of Deccan Gymkhana, Poona- Sir Dorabji Tata expressed his desire to send India to the Olympics, upon his plea and discussion with the British Imperial State he formulated a team with other sponsors to make it possible.
The team was sent to Antwerp, Belgium after training in Paris. After the games, Bhoot mentioned that India can have a future in Olympics, leading to the formation of the Indian Olympic Association in 1927. Lady Meherbai Tata was also an Indian athlete in the Olympic Team. Her name was also recommended for the team but she couldn’t compete.
In 1924 the game was organized in Paris, France. This time India sent a team of 7 tennis players and Harry Buck as manager. Nora Polley, a tennis player was also a member of the team. She was born in Bengal but she spent her early years in Scotland and England. The Anglo- Indian woman reached the third round in women’s singles in Paris, the record still unmatched after 74 years of independence.
By 1928 Indian Hockey Federation was also established, so, a team of Hockey players was also sent by India to Olympics this time.
In 1928 India in Olympics also sent seven athletes with team manager Sondhi. The Hockey team was unexceptionally good at the Olympics and won a gold medal after defeating the Netherlands.
In 1932 again a team of Hockey players along with four athletes and one swimmer was sent to Los Angeles to compete.
This time India defeated the United States with 24-1, one of the largest margins in Olympic history. A team of four athletes, three wrestlers, one weight lifter, along with three officials managed by Sondhi were sent in 1936 by India in Olympics. This time the hockey team defeated Germany by 8-1, the largest margin in the Olympic final.
India after Independence
Due to World War 2 that was fought between 1 September 1939- 2 September 1945, the Olympic games were canceled and they were not resumed until the London Games of 1948.
1948 Paris Olympics was the first time when India in Olympics participated as an independent nation. Due to the wider reach of the Indian Olympic Association, after Independence, India sent a team of over 50 players. The Indian Hockey team won a gold medal by defeating Great Britain in the final. It was the first gold medal for India after independence on 15 August 1947.
1952 Summer Olympics was held in Helsinki, Finland. K.D. Jadhav, an Indian wrestler was the first player to win a bronze medal as an individual for independent India.
Apart from this India sent 4 women athletes for the first time Nilima Ghose, Mary D’Souza, Dolly Nazir, and Arati Saha. This was the first time in independent India that women were representing India in Olympics. These women were really talented and broke many records at different events and games.
In 1956 the game was held in Melbourne, Australia. The Indian field Hockey team continued their dominance by winning a sixth straight title by defeating Pakistan in the final.
The 1960 Olympic games were held in Rome. A team of 45 competitors was sent to Rome by India in Olympics for the participation in 6 sports. This time Indian Men’s hockey team had to settle for Silver. Milkha Singh represented India in athletics. He missed bronze by finishing 4th in Men’s 400m athletics.
The Olympic Game of the year 1964 was held in Tokyo, Japan. The team comprised 53 competitors, 52 men, and 1 woman. The Indian Hockey team won a gold medal, this team. In 1968, 25 competitors all men represented India in Olympics. Again, only the Indian Hockey team won a medal, Bronze in the competition which was held in Mexico.
India competed at the 1972 Summer Olympics which was held in Munich, Germany. This time 41 competitors, 40 men, and 1 woman represented India this time. This time again India won a bronze medal via Indian Hockey Team.
India reduced to winning no medals
In 1976 Olympic Games were held in Montreal, Canada. India sent 20 competitors, all men. This was the first time since 1928 that the Indian Hockey team didn’t win any medal.
India competed at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, USSR. This time the India Hockey team won a gold medal.
In 1984 the Olympics was held in Los Angeles. 48 competitors represented India in the Olympics of which four were women. These women were P.T. Usha, Shiny Abraham, M.D. Valsamma and Vandana Rao. They were the relay team. They didn’t win any medals but set many records.
In the years 1988 and 1992 no medals were won by India in Olympics.
India rising again
The 1996 Summer Olympic Games were organized in Atlanta, United States. Leander Paes won the bronze medal in Men’s Tennis event, the first medal in the sport by India. It had been 44 years since an Indian last won an individual medal at the Olympics. India sent 49 competitors in 13 sports.
2000 Summer Olympic was held in Sydney, Australia. Before the 21st-century Indian women didn’t win any medals at Olympics. However, this time Karnam Malleshwari, a weightlifter won the Bronze medal.
In the 2004 Summer Olympic Games India sent a total of 73 athletes, 48 men and 28 women in Athens, Greece. The men’s hockey team failed to bag any medal this time. But Captain Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the first individual silver medal in shooting.
2008 Olympic Games was a good year for India in Olympics in terms of the medal, but also quite a disappointment. For the first time since 1928 Indian Men Hockey Team failed to qualify for the Olympics. A two-year ban was imposed by International Weightlifting Federation after the scandal of the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
It resulted in the qualification of only one weightlifter Monika Devi, however, she failed the drug test, so she withdrew her name. After some time IWF declared that she was clean but the games had been already closed.
2008 games were held in Beijing, China. India sent 67 competitors for participation in 12 sports.
Abhinav Bindra won the first individual gold medal in shooting. It was a huge achievement for India since after that Sushil Kumar and Vijendra Singh won bronze medals in their respective sports. Sushil Kumar is a wrestler and Vijendra Singh is a boxer. It was the first medal in Boxing for India.
2012 Summer Olympics which was held in London. There were 83 competitors in 13 sports. This time 6 medals were won by India in Olympics.
This time Sushil Kumar, managed to claim a silver medal in freestyle wrestling. Honorary Captain Vijay Kumar Sharma, won the silver medal in sharpshooting. He is the only Indian to have won a medal at a 25m rapid-fire pistol.
Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal in the women’s singles in Badminton. Gagan Narang won a bronze medal in men’s 10m air rifle. Mary Kom won a bronze medal in boxing. Yogeshwar Dutt won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling. In this year Indian players doubled up the number of medals that were won in previous games.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the place where the 2016 Summer Olympics was held. 117 athletes, 63 men, and 54 women were sent by India to Olympics this year.
However, we were able to bag only two medals. P.V. Sindhu won a silver medal in badminton. Sakshi Malik's freestyle wrestler won a bronze. Dipa Karmakar surprised the global audience with her high-risk Produnova routine in the women’s vault.
The 2020 Summer Olympics which were scheduled in august 2020 were postponed to August 2021 due to the Covid-19 global pandemic. This time the largest contingent of 126 athletes were sent by India to Olympics. India won 7 medals.
Neeraj Chopra won a gold medal in Men’s Javelin Throw, the second-ever individual gold in the Indian history of the Olympics. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu won a first-ever silver medal in weightlifting after Karnam Malleshwari won bronze in 2000.
P.V.Sindhu won a bronze medal in badminton. The men’s national field hockey team won the first bronze medal after 1980. Ravi Kumar Dahiya won a silver in men’s freestyle wrestling. Lovlina Borgohain won bronze in boxing. Bajrang Punia also won a bronze in men’s freestyle wrestling.
Worth mentioning players who didn’t win but showed good performance were Aditi Ashok in women’s golf, Deepak Punia in men’s freestyle wrestling. They both occupied the fourth position in the final ranking. C.A. Bhavani is the first-ever Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics.
This was India’s incredible journey from 1900 to 2020 Summer Olympics from sending only one player to sending 126 players in the Olympics. We surely have come a long way. Long ago when only a maximum of 4 women was sent, now we send more than 60 women players at once.
But still, a lot has to be done for the development of Indian players since a lot of them are still struggling to get basic facilities and nutrition. India has a lot of talent it just needs the right direction.
We got a lot of super athletes by now who showed the potential to bring a lot of medals for the country. Comment down the names of the ones who you think can bag medals for India in the next Olympics.
Do like and share this as a proud Indian and spread awareness of the biggest competition of sports around the globe, with everyone.
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