Longevity is one of the prized assets in any sportsperson's career. The combination of consistency and longevity is what determines their legacy. India's representatives at the Olympics are no different. Only four people in the history of the nation have appeared in five or more Olympic Games. In this piece, we'll talk about them:
10. Sania Mirza (2008-2020) – 4 Times
The winner of six Grand Slam Titles and a former Women's Doubles World No. 1, Sania Mirza is going to represent India for the fourth time at the Tokyo Olympics. In Tokyo, Sania will be partnering current India No. 1 Ankita Raina. She'll be looking forward to adding an Olympic medal to her already prestigious trophy cabinet. The Hyderabad-born Tennis star missed a podium finish by a whisker at the 2016 Rio Olympics where she made it to the semis of the mixed doubles along with Rohan Bopanna.
9. Seema Punia (2004, 2012-2020) – 4 Times
Indian Discus Thrower Seema Punia secured her fourth Olympic appearance after booking her tickets to Tokyo recently. The veteran star has achieved national and international recognition throughout her career. She won silver medals in Discus Throw at the 2006 Melbourne, 2014 Glasgow, and 2018 Goldcoast Commonwealth Games. Punia also won the gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. In the 2012 London Olympics, she had finished 13th.
8. PT Usha (1980-1988, 1996) – 4 Times
The queen of Indian track and field, PT Usha is perhaps the most legendary name in Women's Athletics in India. Almost every household in the country is aware of her miraculous form in 1984 and her heart-breaking fourth-placed 400m Hurdles finish at the Los Angeles Olympics. Usha's national record set in Los Angeles stands to this day. The Payyoli Express has represented India in four Olympics.
7. Gagan Narang (2004-2016) – 4 Times
Renowned Indian shooter Gagan Narang has appeared in every Olympics between 2004 and 2016. His highest moment at the Games arrived in the 2012 London Olympics where he clinched a bronze medal in Men's 10m air rifle event. Narang has also won three ISSF World Cup gold medals and was bestowed with the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2010.
6. Dhanraj Pillay (1992-2004) – 4 Times
Former Indian hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay is regarded among the greatest players in the game. His national career spanned 15 years and he appeared in four Olympics along with the Indian national team. He had appeared in 339 matches for the national side and he's the only player to have appeared in four Olympics, four World Cups, four Champions Trophies, and four Asian Games.
5. Leslie Walter Claudius (1948-1960) and Udham Singh (1952-1964) – 4 Times
Both Udham Singh and Leslie Walter Claudius hold the unique distinction of being the only two Indian players to win four Olympic medals in field hockey. Leslie Claudius won the gold medals in 1948, 1952, and 1956 and he added a silver in 1960 as captain of the team. Udham Singh had clinched gold medals in 1952 and 1956 as well along with a silver medal at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He then added another gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
4. Abhinav Bindra (2000-2016) – 5 Times
The only individual gold medalist in India's Olympic history, Abhinav Bindra has appeared in five Olympics between 2000 and 2016. One of the greatest shooters in history, Bindra scaled the highest peak of his career at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 when he won the gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle Event. Bindra came close to securing a podium in his final Olympics appearance in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but had to contend for a fourth-placed finish.
3. Randhir Singh (1968-1984) – 5 Times
Mixed Trap Shooter Randhir Singh appeared in five Olympics from 1968 to 1984, becoming only the second Indian after Karni Singh to achieve this feat. Randhir Singh's best performance in the Olympics arrived in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics where he finished 17th. He later became a sports administrator and was India's representative on the International Olympic Committee.
2. Karni Singh (1960-1972, 1980) – 5 Times
The last Maharaja of Bikaner State to hold the title officially, Karni Singh was an international clay pigeon and skeet champion. He became the first Indian to appear in five Olympics. Maharaja Karni Singh finished eighth at the 1960 Rome Olympics and 10th at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. He was also a politician and served as a member of the Lok Sabha for 25 years.
1. Leander Paes (1992-2016) – 7 Times
The greatest Indian tennis player of all time, Leander Paes is also regarded as one of the greatest Tennis players in Doubles. Paes holds the distinction of winning eight doubles and ten mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. Leander Paes brought glory to India by becoming the first Indian to win a medal in Tennis at the Olympics. His bronze win at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics was an incredible moment in India's sporting history. Paes hoped to make it to Tokyo this time around as well but the pandemic and his low world ranking foiled those plans.