India has seen a steady rise in the number of medals being won at the Olympics in the past few editions. While for some this is still not enough, given the population of the country, others see it as a boon that can only be built upon in the coming years with appropriate investment, infrastructure and facilities. We take a brief look at all the Indian Olympic medal winners to date both in the team and individual events.
Medallists at the 1928 Olympics
The first of India's famous six-match Hockey Gold Medal-winning streak began at the Amsterdam Olympics back in 1928. The team reached the finals after beating Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland. They ultimately triumphed over the Netherlands in the final to claim their first-ever Gold Medal. Dhyan Chand had his first major say in the international front and he ended the tournament as the top scorer with a total of 14 goals. The team was a mixture of Britishers and Indians such as Jaipal Singh Munda, Feroze Khan and Richard Allen.
Medallists at the 1932 Olympics
In the 1932 Olympics, India came back with several changes to the squad that had won the Gold Medal at Amsterdam. The 24-1 record in the match between India and the US, is one that still stands today. There were only three teams that took part in hockey and Japan finished runners up while India took home their second Gold. In doing so, they also scored a total of 44 goals in the three matches they played.
Medallists at the 1936 Olympics
The 1936 Olympics is famous for different reasons and events that transpired in Nazi Germany. India won the Gold medal for the third time but also made a mark with their performances in front of Hitler. A total of 11 teams competed this time with new entrants Afghanistan also being included. India reached the finals after beating United States, Hungary, Japan and France. The final was against the hosts, Germany who eventually lost to India by a score of 8-1. This event is also famous for Hitler offering Dhyan Chand a place in the German Army which Dhyan Chand politely declined.
Medallists at the 1948 Olympics
With the backdrop of World War II, India went into the Olympics as an independent nation for the first time ever. A total of 13 nations took part in this event. India began its rampage by defeating Argentina, Austria and Spain in the group stages. This set up a semi-final clash with the Netherlands who they defeated 2-1 in a closely contested match. The final however was one of the most ironic matchups of Olympic history. India was to take on their former colonisers, Great Britain. They dominated the entire game and thrashed Britain by a total score of 4-0. Thus they accomplished not only taking home a gold medal but getting one over the British as well.
Medallists at the 1952 Olympics
KD Jadhav — Wrestling
The Helsinki Olympics was the first time that India won a medal in an event apart from Hockey. The famed Indian wrestler Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav won bronze in the freestyle bantamweight category. His story is inspirational, to say the least as he had to borrow money to pay for his trip abroad and eventually paid back the money after winning the bronze medal for India, the first individual medal of its kind for independent India.
Hockey witnessed India winning its fifth gold medal and defeated a host of nations on their way to the final including Great Britain whom they defeated 3-1. The final was yet another masterclass with India beating the Netherlands by a score of 6-1. The team included famous players such as Leslie Claudius, CS Dubey and KD Singh.
Medallists at the 1956 Olympics
India's sixth Gold Medal in a row. The first of many clashes involving India and Pakistan laid the foundation for the arch sporting rivalry between the two countries. Both countries were the front runners of world Hockey in the world at that time and came through the group stages by dominating their respective matches. Great Britain and Germany were brushed aside as well to set up the final showdown that was expected to be a tight match. India came away as victors with a score of 1-0 proving to be the final decider, the goal of which was scored by Randhir Singh Gentle.
Medallists at the 1960 Olympics
For the first time in their history, India had to settle for silver at the Rome Olympics. The country was the favourites going into the tournament alongside Pakistan. India defeated Australia and Great Britain by scores of 1-0 to set up a final clash with their neighbours. Pakistan had been dominant throughout the tournament and had defeated Germany and Spain to reach the final. However, India's fairy tale run finally came to an end with a sixth-minute goal being scored by Pakistan's Naseer Bunda.
Medallists at the 1964 Olympics
Gold came back to India's trophy cabinet at the Tokyo Olympics. It the third time that the world would witness an Indo-Pak final and as always it was the showdown of the decade that was expected to take place. Both teams had played approximately seven matches in their group stage matches and had lost none on their way to the semi-finals. India brushed aside Australia and Pakistan defeated Spain to set up the final. The score, as many had predicted, finished at 1-0 with Mohinder Lal winning it for India.
Medallists at the 1968 Olympics
Mexico City proved to be the place where India would win its first and only bronze medal in a team event at the Olympics. The routine matchup as always had India, Australia, Pakistan and West Germany in the semi-finals. However, it proved to be a shocker when India lost out to Australia in extra time and had to settle for a bronze medal match with West Germany. To make matters worse, Pakistan advanced to the finals and won the gold. This was Pakistan's second Gold medal and India had to settle for bronze after defeating West Germany.
Medallists at the 1972 Olympics
India seemingly sailed through to the semi-final by dominating their group-stage matches. They topped their group which included defeating teams like the Netherlands, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. It was in the semi-final however that they met their arch-rivals Pakistan but ended up losing by a score of 2-0 in-game where Pakistan were clearly the better team. India then took on the Netherlands in the third-place playoff with Govinda and Mukhbain sealing the bronze medal for India.
Medallists at the 1980 Olympics
This was the last time that India won a medal at the Olympics and it proved to be one of the finest campaigns that Indian hockey witnessed. This team was relatively inexperienced and only had a few veterans such as MM Somaya, Zafar Iqbal and Bir Chhetri playing for them. The group stages witnessed India beat Tanzania 18-0, Cuba by 13-0 and drew to Poland and future finalists Spain with a score of 2-2 in both games. The Soviet Union game in the semi-final went in India's favour with a 4-2 score helping them progress to the final. However, the showdown with Spain was set again for the blockbuster final. The final was nail-biting with India taking a 3-0 lead before Spain cut back to score 2 goals. India scored one and conceded one more till the last few minutes. With the score at 4-3, India survived two penalty corners in the last few minutes to win their 8th Gold Medal.
Medallists at the 1996 Olympics
Leander Paes — Tennis Men's Singles
India had to wait a total of 44 years before it finally claimed an individual Olympic medal. Leander Paes, one of India's most famous and decorated tennis players reached the semi-finals of the Tennis men's singles event. He beat Fernando Meligeni to claim the bronze medal. It is important to note that Paes was up against Andre Agassi in the semi-final whom he lost to by a score of 7-6, 6-3. And all this was despite a nagging wrist injury that impacted his game.
He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award by the Government in light of his achievement.
Medallists at the 2000 Olympics
Karnam Malleswari — Women's Weightlifting
India's third individual medal winner and the first-ever woman to win an Olympic medal, Karnam Malleswari brought home a bronze medal in the weightlifting 69kg women's category. She lifted a total of 240 kg in the course of her event. 110 kg came in the snatch category while the other 130kg came in the clean and jerk category, both of which were enough to win her the medal.
Medallists at the 2004 Olympics
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore — Double Trap
India's first individual silver medallist, the former sports minister finished second in the double trap event at the Athens Olympics. He had initially qualified for the finals with a score of 135 out of 150 which placed him 5th overall. He then built on this with consistent shooting in the final that took him to a total of 179, just one over the third position and enough to clinch him the silver medal.
Medallists at the 2008 Olympics
Abhinav Bindra — 10m Air Rifle
History maker, Abhinav Bindra brought home India's first-ever individual gold medal at the Olympics. He took the first position in the 10m air rifle event with a score of 700.5. It was a nerve-wracking event with the finest of margins deciding the qualifications. Bindra finished fourth in the qualifications and thereafter preceded to begin a fine of the run of shots all above the 10.0 mark. In his final shot, he was tied with fellow competitor Henri Hakkinen and it was a shot of 10.8 in Bindra's favour that won him the medal.
Vijender Singh — Boxing Middle Weight
He was the second Indian medallist out of the entire contingent at the Beijing Olympics. It was in the middleweight category that he sailed through till the semi finals where he lost out to Emile Correa of Cuba by a close score of 5-8. This however guaranteed him a bronze medal and deservedly so. What stood out during his run to the semi-final was his skill and technique of using the ring to his advantage. This helped him gain the upper hand against experienced opponents.
Sushil Kumar — Freestyle Wrestling
It was his first and India's second medal in wrestling that made the headlines all over the country. Sushil Kumar lost in the first round and was heavily dependent on the repechage round for his medal. It was a series of three bouts within a span of 70 minutes that he had to go through during his repechage and all this was done without the help of a masseur. He reached the semi-final and beat Leonid Spridonov by a score of 3-1, thus bringing home a bronze.
Medallists at the 2012 Olympics
The London Olympics was by far India's most successful Olympic show ever. The Indian contingent came home with 2 silver and 4 bronze medals.
Vijay Kumar — 25m Rapid Fire
Vijay Kumar was one of the first victors who won the silver medal in the 25m rapid-fire event. He had previously failed to qualify for the final of the 10m pistol event. However, the 25m rapid-fire event proved to be a success with him coming in second with a score of 293 and a point average of 9.767.
Sushil Kumar — Wrestling
Sushil Kumar was India's second silver medallist. He holds the distinctive feat of being the only Indian to have won two individual medals till date. At the London Olympics, there was some controversy in the semi-final when Sushil Kumar was accused of biting his opponent's ear during the bout but it was brushed aside and he entered the final. He, unfortunately, lost to Japanese wrestler Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu in a closely contested bout in the final of the Men's freestyle 66kg.
Saina Nehwal — Badminton Women's Singles
Saina Nehwal capped off a stellar run to the semi-final by winning a bronze medal. She was no. 4 in the seeds before the tournament began. After comfortably progressing through the group stages, she beat the no 5 seeded Tine Baun in the quarter-finals. Her run came to an end however when she lost to top-seeded Wang Yihan in straight sets. Her bronze medal match was a comfortable victory with her opponent, Wang Xin retiring hurt when the game was in the second set.
Gagan Narang — 10m Air Rifle
A former shooting world champion, hopes were pinned on Gagan Narang to bring home a medal and he did exactly that in the 10m air rifle event. He finished with a score of 701.1 which was exactly 1 point behind the gold medal winner. This sure made up for the disappointment that the country faced when Abhinav Bindra failed to qualify for the finals in the same event.
Yogeshwar Dutt — Freestyle Wrestling
Yogeshwar Dutt was another victorious Indian wrestler. He won the bronze medal in the men's 60kg category. He had initially lost out in the pre quarter final round itself and was faced with the daunting task of going through the repechage round. He was up against two formidable opponents in his two repechage rounds, one of whom was Masoud Esmaeilpour who had beaten him in the Asian qualifications event previously. He overcame both rounds and took down his semi final opponent in a span of 62 seconds to clinch the bronze medal for India.
MC Mary Kom — Boxing
Former five-time world champion MC Mary Kom was another favourite to claim a podium finish in the women's flyweight category. She had a tough start to the Olympics as her coach could not travel with her and her luggage was also lost on the way. However, despite these odds, she managed to fight her way to the semi final where she lost to Nicola Adams by a score of 6-11. This was another of the many medals in her kitty for one of the finest boxers India has seen.
Medallists at the 2016 Olympics
PV Sindhu — Badminton Women's Singles
PV Sindhu set up a dream showdown against Carolina Marin at the previous edition of the Olympics. Sindhu had overcome Wang Yihan and Nozomi Okuhara in the quarter-finals and semi-finals prior to her match up with Carolina Marin. Many expected her to be the underdog given that Marin was world no 1. Hopes were high after the first set when Sindhu won by a score of 21-19. However, Marin staged a dominative show in the second set to win 21-12 and it all came down to the final set which again went Marin's way when she won 21-15.
Sakshi Malik — Women's freestyle 58kg
Sakshi Malik had initially been defeated in the quarter-finals and was facing an early exit before the repechage round took place. It was here that she defeated fellow Asian competitors Pürevdorjiin Orkhon in the first round. In the bronze medal match-up, she was up against Aisuluu Tynybekova and was initially losing her bout by a score of 5-0 at one point. Thereafter she made a stunning comeback and won 8-5 to seal the bout in her favour and in doing so, she became the first Indian women wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics.