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Tokyo 2020

India's first Olympics medallists in every sport - All you need to know

Who is the first Olympic gold, silver, and bronze medallist in India? Let's look at the athletes who clinched India's first-ever medal in the sport they play.

First Indian Olympic medallists
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Know the first Indian Olympic medallists in every sport.

By

Abhijit Nair

Updated: 2021-03-21T15:58:17+05:30

An Olympic medal is what every athlete dreams of when he or she starts playing any sport. Over the years, India has bagged a total of 28 medals at the Olympics – including 9 gold medals, 7 silver medals and 12 bronze medals across various sports like field hockey, wrestling, tennis, badminton and others.

Being the first one from your country to achieve an Olympic medal in the sport you practice is something highly extraordinary. It does not only turn you into a sensation overnight but also carves your name forever in the history books of the country's sporting legacy.

Here, we look at the athletes who clinched India's first-ever medal in the sport they play. But before you start reading the article, can you guess the names of all the medal winners?


Who won India's first Field Hockey medal at the Olympics?

Field Hockey has been India's pet-event at the Olympics, winning a total of 11 medals in the sport. If we exclude the medals won by Norman Pritchard, for obvious reasons, in the 1900 Paris Games; India's first-ever medal can be said to have come in Field Hockey.

It was at the 1928 Amsterdam Games that the Indian hockey team – first led by Jaipal Singh and thereafter by Eric Pinninger, clinched the gold medal and laid the foundation of an Indian dominance in sports in years to come. While Singh led India till the quarterfinals, Pinninger took over after that as Singh left the team after some internal issues within the team. This tournament also saw the emergence of the legendary Dhyan Chand as a force to reckon with in world hockey as he netted 14 goals in the tournament including a brace in India's 3-0 victory against Holland in the gold medal match.

Who won India's first Olympic medal in Wrestling?

India's first-ever individual medal at the Olympics, if we exclude Norman Pritchard, came in wrestling during 1952 Helsinki Games. It was also the first time that India won a medal in sports other than field hockey at the Olympics.

India's first Olympic medal in wrestling was delivered by Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav when he clinched the bronze during the 1952 Games. The only Indian Olympic medallist to have not been honoured with a Padma Award, KD Jadhav had also participated in the 1948 Olympics at London.

While he finished 6th in London, Jadhav came back strongly at Helsinki winning his first three bouts with ease before losing two in a row against the Azerbaijani Rashid Mammadbeyov and Shohachi Ishii of Japan to settle for the bronze medal.

Who won India's first Olympic medal in Tennis?

India's second individual medal at the Olympics came almost 44 years after their first during the 1996 Games at Atlanta. The brown metal in men's singles was clinched by a 23-year-old Leander Paes, who would later go on to establish himself as one of the greatest doubles player of all time. Paes has participated in a total of seven consecutive Olympics starting from the 1992 Barcelona Games and is currently eyeing his eighth Olympic appearance during the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in 2021.


Leander Paes, the timeless jewel in the crown of tennis!


During the 1992 Games, Paes reached the quarterfinals of men's doubles partnering with fellow Indian, Ramesh Krishnan before bowing out of the event. The Atlanta Olympics in 1996, though, had better things in store for both, Paes and India. Up against Fernando Meligeni in the bronze medal match with an injured wrist, Paes put up an extraordinary show to bring home India's first individual Olympic medal since 1952. Almost 25 years down the line, this still remains India's only Olympic medal in Tennis.

Who won India's first Weightlifting Olympic medal?

Unlike India's second individual Olympic medal, the wait for their third individual medal at the Olympics was not long by any means. The country's third individual medal came in weightlifting during the 2000 Sydney Games; and unlike all the previous Olympic medals for India, this was different. This was the first-ever Olympic medal won by an Indian woman at the quadrennial event!



The woman who achieved this feat was a 25 year old from Andhra Pradesh, Karnam Malleswari. Competing in the 69kg weight category, Malleswari lifted 110kg in 'snatch' and 130kg in 'clean and jerk' for a total of 240kg and ensure a bronze medal for the country in Sydney. Around two decades after this feat was achieved, Malleswari's bronze is still India's only Olympic medal in the sport of Weightlifting.

Who won India's first Olympic medal in Shooting?

Though shooting is one of those sports India has excelled at the Olympics, the country's first medal in the sport did not come until the year 2004 when Rajyavardhan Rathore bagged a silver medal at Athens.

Competing in the men's double trap, a 34-year-old Rathore was at the peak of his powers during that time as he bagged a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Games. This was India's first-ever individual silver at the Olympics – a feat that has been repeated quite a few times since then.

Who won India's first Olympic medal in Boxing?

India has been a force to reckon with in Boxing at the Asian and Commonwealth Games in recent times. But, that success has not quite translated in the Olympics as the country has registered just two medals in the sport at the Olympics.



The first of the two medals in boxing was clinched by Vijender Singh during the 2008 Beijing Games. Competing in the middleweight category, Singh was on a roll throughout the tournament before losing the plot in the semi-finals against Cuba's Emilio Correa to clinch a bronze medal for India – the country's first in boxing.

Who won India's first Olympic medal in Badminton?

The Indian badminton rose to greater heights in the 2010s, thanks to the emergence of some highly talented players. Capitalising on this, the country grabbed two Olympic medals in badminton in the last decade.

The first of which came from the racquet of Saina Nehwal during the 2012 London Olympics. Competing in the women's singles she lost to the Chinese top seed Wang Yihan in the semifinals in straight sets, before her opponent for the bronze medal match – Wang Xin retired from the match due to an injury and handed India their first-ever medal in badminton at the Olympics.




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