September 25, 2022


This text is a two-part sequence on India’s participation within the earlier Olympic video games and the upcoming Olympic video games. 

Like hundreds of thousands of others, I’m eagerly trying ahead to the resumption of the 2020 Olympics after an unlucky postponement from final yr on account of Covid-19. It begins on July 23, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan a uncommon break from the quadrennial routine. Solely thrice earlier (1916, 1940, and 1944) had been the Video games canceled and it was because of the two World Wars. 

The Fashionable Olympics, a brainchild of the Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was inaugurated in Athens, Greece in 1896. The Baron was certainly fired up by grandiose visions of reviving the Historical Olympics in Greece which had come to an finish in 393 AD. The venue of Athens was appropriately chosen to remind all about this historic heritage.

The Olympic Video games, which has grown right into a mammoth sports activities spectacle, had moderately humble beginnings. Within the First Olympics, there have been solely 9 sports activities: Athletics, Biking, Fencing, Gymnastics, Taking pictures, Swimming, Tennis, Wrestling, and Weightlifting. Fourteen nations had been listed (some with one competitor.). Greece had a big contingent (169), adopted by France, United States, Nice Britain, and Germany. In 2016, there have been 11,000 rivals from 107 nations. Presently, the full variety of sports activities stands at 28.

India, as a nation, first made its look within the Olympics in Antwerp in 1920*.  They despatched 6 rivals: 4 athletes and two wrestlers. Since then, India has despatched groups to all the next Olympics. It has been a selected attraction to see the Indian staff march throughout the opening ceremonies together with all the opposite nations. The boys in turbans and the ladies in sarees are a pleasure to observe. In 2021, India will ship its largest-ever contingent of 69 males and 55 girls who will compete in 18 sports activities, together with Males’s and Ladies’s Subject hockey and Rifle Taking pictures. 

*Within the 1900 Paris Olympics, Norman Pritchard, a British resident of Calcutta, gained two silver medals in Monitor and Subject (200 meters and 200-meter hurdles).

India has gained a complete of 28 medals through the years. Its crowning glory has undoubtedly been in Subject Hockey, the place it gained 11 medals (together with 8 golds).  Its final medal was a gold in 1980.

Checklist of Olympic Medals Received By India

Medalists on the 2012 Summer season Olympics. Left to proper: Sushil Kumar (silver), Akzhurek Tanatarov (bronze), Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu (gold) and Liván López (bronze). (Picture by Akira Kouchiyama on Flickr and underneath Inventive Commons License 2.0)

Subject Hockey: 11 (Gold: 1928 – 1936, 1948 – 1956, 1964, 1980;  Silver: 1960; Bronze:  1968, 1972) 

Freestyle Wrestling: 5 ( Silver: Sushil Kumar, 66 kg, 2012;  Bronze: Ok. D. Jadhav, Bantamweight, 1952; Sushil Kumar, 66 kg, 2008; Yogeshwar Dutt, 60 kg 2012; Sakshi Malik, Ladies’s 58 kg, 2016)

Taking pictures: 4 (Gold: Abhinav Bindra, Males’s 10m Rifle, 2008; Silver: Rajyavardhan Rathore, Males’s Double Lure, 2004; Vijay Kumar, Males’s 25 Speedy Hearth Pistol, 2012; Bronze: Gagan Narang, Males’s 10m Air Rifle, 2012)

Monitor and Subject: 2 (Silver: Norman Pritchard, 200 meters and 200 meters hurdles, 1900)

Badminton: 2 (Silver: PV Sindhu, Ladies’s Singles, 2016; Bronze: Saina Nehwal, Ladies’s Singles 2012)

Tennis: 1 (Bronze: Leander Paes, Males’s Singles, 1996)

Weightlifting: 1 (Bronze: Karnam Malleswari, Ladies’s 69kg, 2000)

Boxing: 2 (Bronze: Vijender Singh, Middleweight, 2008; Mary Kom, Ladies’s Flyweight, 2012)

I’ve additionally introduced beneath a listing of aggressive rivals, for my part, however didn’t win a medal. They’re typically separated by inches, milliseconds, or the third locations of decimals and on a given day, they might have made it to the rostrum.  

Checklist of Particular person Athletes Who Have been Aggressive However Did Not Win a Medal

Monitor and Subject: Milkha Singh (4th in 400m, 1960); Gurbhachan Singh Randhawa (fifth in 110m Hurdles, 1964);  Sriram Singh (seventh  in 800m, 1976); Shivnath Singh (eleventh in Marathon, 1976); PT Usha (4th by one-hundredth of a second in Ladies’s 400m Hurdles in 1984);  Anju George (5th in Lengthy Bounce, 2000); Krishna Punia (6th in Ladies’s Discus Throw, 2012); Vikas Gowda (8th in Males’s Discus Throw,  2012); Lalitha Babbar (10th in Ladies’s 3000m Steeplechase, 2016).  

Ladies’ Gymnastics: Dipa Karmakar (4th in Vault, 2016)

Tennis: Sania Mirza (4th in Blended Doubles, 2016); 

Taking pictures: Abhinav Bindra (4th in Males’s 10m Rifle, 2016)

Notable close to misses — much-heralded fourth-place end by the not too long ago deceased Milkha Singh in 400m in Rome, PT Usha lacking the bronze by one-hundredth of a second within the 1984 Olympics in Ladies’s 400m Hurdles, and Dipa Karmakar’s nearest of misses after touchdown the legendary Produnova Vaul — will without end be etched the recollections of all Indian Olympic aficionados.

I don’t recall anybody in males’s or girls’s swimming making the grade, however I’m conscious of a number of wrestlers who got here near medals within the Nineteen Sixties or Seventies. 

As for staff sports activities, other than our legendary run in Subject Hockey, the one aggressive staff might have been the 1956 soccer staff which completed fourth; this was again when Olympic soccer was nonetheless strictly restricted to amateurs. 

Learn the second a part of this story! Different Indian Olympic candidates to look out for: Deepika Kumari and Bajrang Punia.


Partha Sircar has a BE in Civil Engineering from Bengal Engineering Faculty in Shibpur, India, and a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering from the College of California at Berkeley. He’s a 53-year resident of the USA, together with the final 36 years in California. He has labored in a number of engineering organizations through the years and is now retired for over eight years. He loves to write down and could be reached by e-mail at psircar@yahoo.com.


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