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Tokyo 2020

A look at all the female Olympic medal winners from India

It was only in the 21st century that women started winning Olympic medals for India.

A look at all the female Olympic medal winners from India
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By

Abhijit Nair

Published: 6 April 2021 11:30 AM GMT

India has won a total of 28 Olympic medals over the years. Although the country's most successful event at the quadrennial event has been field hockey, it has managed quite a few medals in various other sports as well.

But, it was only in the 21st century that women started winning Olympic medals for India. All of India's Olympic medals in the 1900s were won by men. Here, we look at all the females who have won an Olympic medal for India since then:

Karnam Malleswari


The first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal, Karnam Malleswari achieved this feat in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Aged just 25 then, Malleswari emerged as the only Indian to win a medal in an otherwise disappointing Olympic campaign for the Indians.

Competing in the 69kg division of Weightlifting, Karnam Malleswari lifted a total of 240kg – 110kg in snatch and 130kg in clean and jerk to bring home a bronze medal from Sydney. Even two decades after her bronze, Malleswari remains India's only Olympic medallist in the sport of weightlifting.

Saina Nehwal


12 years after Karnam Malleswari's historic win at the Sydney Olympics, Saina Nehwal became the second Indian woman to win an Olympic medal during the 2012 Games at London.

Having participated unseeded in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a 22 year old Nehwal entered the London Olympics as the fourth seed. She had even contracted a fever just before the Olympics but fought through it during the league phase, registering 21-9, 21-4 and 21-4, 21-14 wins over Switzerland's Sabrina Jaquet and Belgium's Lianne Tan respectively.

Nehwal registered yet another straight set victory (21-14, 21-16) against Yao Jie in the pre-quarterfinals. Though she faced a stern test in the quarterfinals against the Danish Tine Baun she managed to eke out a 21-15, 22-20 victory.

Nehwal, though, surrendered 13-21, 13-21 in the semifinals against China's Wan Yihan. In the bronze medal match the she was down 18-21, 0-1 when her opponent – Wan Xin of China pulled off the match due to an injury and handed Nehwal an Olympic bronze – the country's first Olympic medal in badminton.

Mary Kom


A pugilist from the state of Manipur, Mary Kom is the only Indian woman to have won an Olympic medal in boxing. She became the third Indian woman to win an Olympic medal for the country just days after Saina Nehwal's triumph at the 2012 London Games.

The only Indian woman in fray for boxing, Kom competed in the 51kg category. She defeated Karolia Michalczuk of Poland 19-14 in the first round and then proceeded to defeat Tunisia's Maroua Rahali 15-6 to enter the semifinals.

She lost the semifinal bout to United Kingdom's Nichola Adams 6-11 and bagged a bronze medal for the country.

PV Sindhu


The second badminton player from India to win an Olympic medal, PV Sindhu achieved this feat during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The then 21 year old had a splendid run in the tournament before faltering against Spain's Carolina Marin in the final to settle for a silver.

Seeded ninth in the tournament, Sindhu registered an easy 21-8, 21-9 win against Hungary's Laura Sarosi before registering a 19-21, 21-15, 21-17 come from behind victory against Michelle Li to enter the pre-quarterfinals.

In the pre-quarters, the Indian went past Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying 21-13,21-15 in straight sets before notching up a 22-20, 21-19 win against a much higher ranked Chinese Wang Yihan to enter the semifinals.

Sindhu set up an easy 21-19, 21-10 win against Japan's Nozomi Okuhara in the semifinal before losing 21-19, 12-21, 15-21 in to Marin in an intense 83 minute match.

Sakshi Malik


The first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal in wrestling, Sakshi Malik achieved this feat during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Competing in the 58kg category, a 23 year old Malik clinched bronze medal for India.

Malik started off well registering back to back wins in the round of 32 and round of 16 against Sweden's Johanna Mattsson and Moldovan Mariana Cherdivara to enter the quarterfinals.

In the quarterfinals, Malik lost to eventual champion from Russia Valeria Koblova. In the repechage she defeated the Mongolian Pürevdorjiin Orkhon in her first bout, before registering a 8-5 come from behind victory over Aisuluu Tynybekova of Kyrgyzstan to grab the bronze medal.


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