Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


100 years and 26 medals — India's journey at the Olympics

On International Olympic Day 2021, we take a look at India's various gold, silver and bronze medals at the Olympics across shooting, wrestling, badminton, hockey, weighting, boxing and tennis.

100 years and 26 medals — Indias journey at the Olympics

Md Imtiaz

Updated: 23 Jun 2021 4:41 AM GMT

From 1920 to 2020, it has been a 100-year journey so far for India in the biggest sporting event i.e. Olympics.

India sent its first Olympic contingent to the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium, some twenty years after a single athlete (Norman Pritchard) competed for India in 1900. A total of five represented the Indian contingent at the tournament -- three in athletics and two in wrestling.

India's journey at the 1920 Olympics was made by the generous contribution of Sir Dorabji Tata, the first President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), who funded three Indian athletes to take part in that Olympics. At a sports meet in 1919, the assembly president Tata requested Governor of Bombay Lloyd George to secure India a place in the Olympic Games.

This desire led to the International Olympic Committee granting permission to participate in the Olympic Games. After a trial meet in Poona (now Pune), in 1920, India sent a team to the Summer Olympics.

As the editions went by the number of athletes participating in the Olympics grew. From just five members in two disciplines in 1920 to 117 members across 15 events in 2016, the growth was substantial.

A century since first participating in Olympics, as India head into the 32nd edition in Tokyo, a nation with a population of 1.3 billion has merely 28 medals to its name. The United States of America (USA), on the other hand, leads the medal tally with 2,522 medals under its belt. This clearly is not the case of the population of a country which can be said is directly proportional to the number of medals.

For a certain period of time, India was a proven dominant force in the sport of field hockey. The likes of the legendary Dhyan Chand and Balwant Singh have won India eleven medals in Olympics, including eight gold medals total and six successive gold medals from 1928 to 1956.

In 1927, the provisional Indian Olympic Committee formally became the Indian Olympic Association (IOA); its main tasks were to promote the development of sports in India, choose host cities for the national games, and send teams selected from the national games to the Summer Olympics.

Since 1948, with IOA having a wider outreach, India began sending delegations of over 50 sportspersons representing several sports, each selected by its sports federation, to the games.

Also Read: Study says India will win 12 medals in Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Also Read: Sourav Ganguly invited to be India's Goodwill Ambassador for Olympics 2020

In the Sydney Games of 2000, Karnam Malleswari won a bronze medal and became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. She is also the first and only Indian woman weightlifter to win an Olympic medal so far.

However, India had to wait till 2008 for them to win a gold medal in individual sports. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Abhinav Bindra won gold in the Men's 10-metre air rifle event becoming the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games. In the same edition, Vijender Singh got the country's first medal in boxing with his bronze medal in the Middleweight category.

Bindra's moment of fame came at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing when he won gold in the Men's 10 metre air rifle event

The 2012 Summer Olympics saw an 83-member Indian contingent participating in the games and setting a new best for the country with a total of six medals. Wrestler Sushil Kumar became the first Indian with multiple individual Olympic medals (bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and silver at the 2012 Summer Olympics).

Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal in badminton in Women's singles getting the country's first Olympic medal in badminton. Pugilist Mary Kom became the first Indian woman to win a medal in boxing with her bronze medal finish in Women's flyweight.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics, a record number of 117 athletes competed. Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal with her bronze medal finish in the Women's freestyle 58 kg category.

Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal with her bronze medal

Shuttler P. V. Sindhu became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the Olympics and also the youngest Indian Olympic medallist.

PV Sindhu BWF World Championships

Though India have often shone in tournaments like Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, their performances have taken a hit at the big stages like the Olympics or World Championships. For instance, despite winning medals in athletics at these stages, India haven't been able to win a single athletics medal at the Olympics.

Shooting is one of the sports which have systemically revamped its structure and have built a mighty prospect for itself at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Data has also shown the sports federations spending the most have won the greatest number of medals at the Olympics.

Like shooting, systematic overhaul in other sports can yield India more medals and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics could set a benchmark for India at the global stage.

Next Story