India at the Olympics – 50 lesser known facts
As we inch closer to the Tokyo Olympics next month, here are 50 lesser known facts about India's Olympic history that will bring a smile to your face.
It's been 121 years since India made its debut at the 1900 games, where only one athlete named Norman Pritchard represented India. However, India has been a regular feature since the 1920 Antwerp Games, where they travelled as a contingent from India. Thus, there is a rich history surrounding the Indian delegation, which has been participating in Olympics for over a century now.
Now, let's have a look at 50 lesser-known facts about India at Olympics:
1. Indian Hockey's golden era:
Indian Hockey's best days go back to the 1920s when they had a golden run, winning against their rivals easily. Great Britain withdrew from the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, fearing Dhyan Chand's Indian team, which was a colony under the British.
2. First Indian Woman Gymnast:
It took 52 years for a densely populated country like India to produce a women Gymnast at the Olympics after 6 men Gymnasts particpated in 1964 Olympics. Finally, Dipa Karmakar became the first Indian women gymnast to compete at the Olympics, which came up at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
3. First Olympic medal:
The First Olympics medal came to India, which was colonial India back then came at 1900 Paris Olympic Games where Norman Pritchard had won two silver medals in athletics.
4. First Asian nation to win an Olympic medal:
Back then, India, which was Colonial India, became the first Asian nation to win an Olympic medal when Norman Pritchard won two silver medals at the 1900 Paris Games.
5. First individual medal for independent India:
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, a wrestler from the state of Maharashtra, won a bronze medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.
6. Hockey Olympics final record:
Balbir Singh created this record at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, where he had scored 5 goals in the final against the Netherlands, where India had won with a margin of 6-1, and this record is not yet broken.
7. Indian football team's golden run at 1956 Melbourne Olympics:
In the 1956 Olympics, the Indian football team reached the semi-finals by beating the hosts Australia with a margin of 4-2 in the quarter-finals. This is the most outstanding achievement of the Indian football team to date.
8. First Individual women Olympic medal:
Weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari became the first Indian Women to win an Olympic medal when she won a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
9. A record that was not broken for 40 long years:
Milkha Singh, who came fourth in the 400m race at the 1960 Olympics games, created a national record that was intact until it was broken in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
10. First women athlete at Olympics:
Nilima Ghose became the first Indian women athlete to participate in the Olympics when she ran at the 100m heats, which came at the 1952 Olympics.
11. First Badminton Player:
India has won two medals in badminton at Olympics. Let us see the first Indian to participate in badminton at Olympics. Dipankar Bhattacharjee became the first badminton player when he represented India at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
12. Actor but also an Olympian:
Jankidas Mehra was not only an actor, writer, director but also an Olympian who participated in the 1936 Olympics. He broke as many as 8 cycling world records between 1934 and 1942.
13. Most Olympics medals for India:
Hockey has given India the most number of medals at the Olympics. Out of the total 28 medals, India had won at the Olympics, 11 medals come from the sport of Hockey which includes 8 gold medals.
14. India's Contingent at 1920 Olympics:
India's contingent comprised of only 5 athletes when they first travelled as a nation to the 1920 Olympics. It consisted of 3 track athletes and 2 wrestlers.
15. India's Tennis debut at Olympics:
India's debut came at the 1924 Paris Olympics, where they had sent out 7 tennis athletes along with 7 track & field athletes.
16. First Gold medal post-independence:
India's first Olympic gold medal as an independent nation came in 1948 where they defeated Great Britain in Hockey.
17. India's first medal in a tennis singles event:
Leander Paes won a Bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the men's singles event ending India's medal drought for 16 years.
18. First Individual Gold medal:
Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an Individual Gold medal when he won in the Men's 10m air rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
19. Women athlete's performance at 2016 Rio Olympics:
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, India sent a record number of 118 athletes, but we ended up getting only two medals. Women athletes won both the medals; PV Sindhu won in Badminton and Sakshi Malik in Wrestling.
20. Only athlete with two Olympics individual medal:
Sushil Kumar, the wrestler from India, became the first individual athlete to win multiple medals when he won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a silver at the 2012 London Olympics.
21. Six consecutive Gold medals in a sport:
India won consecutive 6 gold medals in hockey from 1928 to 1956 Olympics with winning 24 successive matches.
22. First Indian Boxer to win a medal:
Vijender Singh became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal when he won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
23. A rise in popularity of shooting as a sport:
India has a rich talent of shooters right now, but it all started at the 2004 Athens Olympics when Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore won the silver medal and became the first Indian shooter to win an Olympic medal.
24. A costly autograph:
Indian Hockey goalkeeper Richard Allen conceded a goal when he was busy giving an autograph to his fans. This moment would be remembered in history for a long time.
25. Indian Hockey women's team:
India's women hockey team made their debut at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, where women's Hockey was played first time as a team event.
26. Kabaddi and its connection with Adolf Hitler:
Kabaddi was demonstrated for the first time by India at the 1936 Olympics, where Adolf Hitler was also present looking at the proceedings.
27. Sansarpur contribution to Indian Hockey:
Sansarpur, a small village in the outskirts of Punjab, produced 14 hockey players who went on to represent India at the Olympics.
28. Introduction of women's boxing:
Women's boxing was introduced for the first time at the 2012 London Olympics, where MC Mary Kom was the only Indian women to qualify, and she also won a bronze medal there.
29. Only women Silver medallist:
PV Sindhu became the first Indian women to win a silver medal when she achieved the feat at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
30. Art was part of Olympics:
Until the 1948 games, art was part of the Olympics and also, an Indian named Chintamoni Kar from West Bengal won a silver medal for Great Britain.
31. Women at 1952 Helsinki Games:
1952 Helsinki games were the first Olympics where Indian women participated, and they were four athletes who participated in it.
32. Medals before independence:
India won 5 medals comprising of 3 gold and two silver before independence, and those medals count as British India, not India.
33. National Anthem at Olympics:
The national anthem at Olympics was first played at the 1948 Olympics because before that, it was British India, and the anthem was played only after Independence.
34. Olympian on a postage stamp:
Dhyan Chand was the first Indian to be honoured by the government by releasing a postage stamp on his name, which was done during his first death.
35. First woman flag bearer:
Shiny Abraham Wilson became the first-ever woman flag bearer when she did that during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
36. India's Basketball stint at Olympics:
India played Basketball at the 1980 Moscow games when many teams withdrew from the tournament due to the US-led boycott of the Olympics, and that happened to be the last time India's participated in Olympics.
37. Indian Archery at Olympics:
Archery was contested in Olympics right from 1900, but India participated for the first time only in 1988 in Seoul, which Limba Ram led.
38. India's participation in Olympics:
India has participated in athletics in every Olympics it has participated in, and no other sports have this unique record held by athletics.
39. Most successful campaign:
India's most successful campaign came in the 2012 London Olympics, where they won 6 medals.
40. India's Swimming at Olympics:
Quite a number of swimmers had represented India, but none of them has been on the podium. Shamsher Khan was an Indian swimmer who represented India in the 1956 Olympics and was also in the Indian Army and also participated in the Indo-China war in 1962 and the war with Pakistan in 1971.
41. Water Polo participation:
Many people would be unaware of the sports named Water Polo in India, but India had representation in both the 1948 and 1952 games.
42. Youngest Indian Olympic medallist:
PV Sindhu became the youngest Olympic medallist when she won the Silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
43. India's Golf athletes at Olympics:
Golf was played during 1900 and 1904, but it got vanished for a century. However, the games made a comeback at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where three Indians also participated, namely Anirban Lahiri, Shiv Chawarasia and Aditi Ashok.
44. Ambani's association with Olympics:
Anita Ambani, the wife of Mukesh Ambani, became the first Indian woman to join the International Olympic Committee as a member, and she can serve till the age of 70.
45. Two Olympic medallists in a family:
Paes family have bought two Olympics medals for the nation. Vice Paes won a Bronze medal in Hockey during the 1972 Munich games, and Leander Paes also won a bronze medal in Tennis at the 1996 Atlanta games.
46. Record number of Olympics:
Leander Paes has represented India in the record seven Olympics, and it will be eighth if he makes it to Tokyo Olympics 2020.
47. Maharaja represented India at Olympics:
Maharaja Karni Singh, Maharaja of Bikaner in Rajasthan, was the first Indian to compete at five Olympic Games, which he did from 1960 to 1980, missing the Games of 1976, representing India at clay pigeon shooting. Dr Karni Singh shooting range in New Delhi is named after him.
48. Adolf Hitler's invitation to Dhyan Chand:
Adolf Hitler was so impressed by Dhyan Chand's performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics that he ended up inviting Dhyan Chand to join the German army as a colonel.
49. Life insurance to athletes:
Edelweiss Tokio life insurance was the sponsor of the Indian contingent at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They provided life cover of 1 crore to each athlete participating in the games.
50. Record wrestling contingent at 2016 Rio Olympics:
India had sent out a record number of 8 wrestlers to the 2016 Rio Olympics.