Summer Olympic Games is the world's biggest sporting event you could ask for. Initiated in 1896, it has served as the force to bind all the nations together through the power of sports. Athletes put in their years of hard work and training to shine with flying colors and to bring Olympic glory to their home country. Every four years, fans across the globe are glued to their television sets to watch their favorite stars perform hoping for them to win an Olympic medal.
The same craze is evident in India where 1.3 billion fans pray for their home athletes to give their best shot. But sadly, India hadn't had much success in the Olympics as compared to its population size. We have been able to win only 28 medals (11 Hockey, 5 Wrestling, 3 Shooting, 2 Athletics, 2 Badminton, 2 Boxing, 1 Weightlifting and 1 Tennis) so far in the previous edition of the Olympics (leaving the count of Tokyo 2020) with only gold medals in hockey and shooting. But the ones who have brought the dream win to the nation, have scripted history over the years.
We cannot forget their contributions to sports in India and the power to run the belief system of all Indians with their exceptional show at the Olympics. Let's find about some of them where are they now and what happened after their Olympic victory:
Leander Paes (Bronze Medallist, Tennis at 1996 Atlanta)
Paes brought home India's first-ever Olympic medal in tennis and the only one at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. He defeated Fernando Meligani in the bronze medal encounter to give India a medal after a gap of 16 years from 1980. From his victory in 1996, he went on to win many grand slam titles in doubles events and received many awards for his performance like Padman Bhushan, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Arjuna Award. He now serves as the sports ambassador of the state of Harayana.
Karnam Malleshwari (Bronze Medallist, Weightlifting at 2000 Sydney)
The first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal, Karnam Malleshwari shook the nation with her phenomenal performance in the 54kg weightlifting category. She lifted a total of 240kg to clinch the third position at Sydney Olympics. Having been a champion and a big supporter of Indian athletes, she was appointed as the vice-chancellor of the upcoming Delhi Sports University. She has been proactive in bringing the youth of the country to bring laurels in international stages.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (Silver Medallist, Men's double trap shooting at 2004 Athens)
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore became the first Indian shooter to win an Olympic medal. The army colonel maintained his precision in the dying moments to bag the silver medal position. The retired officer now serves as a Member of Parliament in the house of Lok Sabha encouraging the nation towards fitness and has been the Minister of State for Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports till May 2019.
Abhinav Bindra (Gold Medallist, Men's 10m Air Rifle Shooting at 2008 Beijing)
India's first-ever shooting gold medal was won by the experienced Bindra. Known for his masterclass in shooting, he shot a 10.8 to bag the top position for Team India. Apart from being a shooter, Bindra is also a businessman being the CEO of Abhinav Futuristics Pvt. Ltd. bringing tech into sports. Ever since his retirement, he has actively worked for the athlete's development through various schemes and policies.
Vijender Singh (Bronze Medallist, Boxing at 2008 Beijing)
Becoming the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal, Vijender Singh made India proud by punching out Carlos Gongora of Ecuador in the quarters before losing to Cuba's Emilio Correa in the semis. Post the victory, he became a star appearing on television shows and gained immense popularity. Singh decided to turn a professional boxer where he now dominates the ring.
Gagan Narang (Bronze Medallist, Men's 10m air rifle shooting at 2012 London)
The veteran of the game, Narang went on to finish third after an intense shooting round with Wang Tao of China and Italy's Nicolo Campriani. He now runs his own Academy who sent six trainees to the Tokyo Olympics and is trying to make it the hub to train young shooters.
Vijay Kumar (Silver Medallist, Men's 25m rapid pistol shooting at 2012 London)
Vijay Kumar registered his name as the Silver Medallist in Men's 25m rapid pistol shooting when he outperformed other shooters and clinched the 2nd position. Being a humble guy and a person who doesn't want to stay in the public limelight, he now serves as DSP in Himachal Pradesh.
Yogeshwar Dutt (Bronze Medallist, Wrestling at 2012 London)
Yogeshwar Dutt achieved his childhood dream of winning an Olympic medal from India when he defeated Ri Jong Myong, the wrestler from North Korea in the last repechage round of the 60kg category. The former Indian grappler now runs a wrestling academy and has taken a 'learn Russian' initiative. Dutt serves as an inspiration and motivates all the wrestlers to perform their best on the international stage.
Saina Nehwal (Bronze Medallist, Badminton at 2012 London)
The first Indian badminton player to achieve this feat, Saina won the bronze medal after her opponent China's Wang Xin got retired in the match. She still continues to serve Indian badminton having won the 2018 Commonwealth gold medal but is subjected to constant injuries which took away her chance from a fourth Olympic appearance.
Mary Kom (Bronze Medallist, Boxing at 2012 London)
The legend 6 times World Champion Mary Kom won the first women's boxing Olympic medal for India. She continued her powerful form when she recently played her last Olympics in Tokyo losing out in the pre-quarters stage.
Sakshi Malik (Bronze Medallist, Wrestling at 2016 Rio)
Beating Kyrgyzstan's Aisuluu Tynybekova in the 58kg bronze medal encounter, Sakshi won the contest in what was one of the most amazing comebacks ever. She is now employed by the Indian Railways and is a part of the JSW Sports Excellence Program.
PV Sindhu (Silver Medallist, Badminton at 2016 Rio)
The current World No. 7 in badminton made her winning start at the Olympics in Rio with a silver medal losing out to Carolina Marin of Spain. She has made a great name for herself in the international badminton circuit as she won her second Olympic medal on Sunday defeating He Bingjiao of China in the bronze medal encounter at the Tokyo Olympics.