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India at Olympics: History of Weightlifting in the Games

India has a long history in the weightlifting discipline at the Olympics, let us take a look.

India at Olympics: History of Weightlifting in the Games

Abishek Sadanandam

Updated: 9 Jun 2021 3:12 PM GMT

Weightlifting as a sport has a rich legacy for over a century now, but unfortunately, a densely populated nation like India has not lived up to it. This sport has been part of the Olympics right from the 18th century, where it made its debut at the 1896 Olympics, and it has been a regular feature barring the 1900, 1908 and 1912 Olympics.

Initially, it started with two competitions, one hand and two hands lifting across five categories 60kg (Featherweight), 67.5kg (Lightweight), 75kg (Middleweight), 82.5kg (Light-heavyweight) and 90kg (Heavyweight). Looking at the sport's rising popularity, the Indian Weightlifting federation was formed in 1935 with Shri Bijoy Chand Mahatab as its first president.

First Indian participation

First Indian weightlifting participation at Olympics came up at 1936 Berlin games in the form of Burma native U Zaw Weik, but Dandamundi Rajagopal was the first Indian origin weightlifter to participate at the games, who went on to represent India at three Olympics 1948 London games, 1952 Helsinki games and 1956 Melbourne games.

India's performance at Olympics

1948 London Olympics

India had two lifters at the 1948 Games. Daniel Pon Mony and other notable names was Dandamundi Rajagopal, the first Indian origin lifter to participate in the Olympics. He competed in the Heavyweight category.

Kunjarani Devi

Kunjarani Devi

1952 Helsinki Olympics

Daniel Pon Mony finished 12th in Men's 60 Kg category, Kamineni Eshwara Rao finished 19th in the Middle-heavyweight, and Dandamundai Rajagol also participated at this Olympics.

1956 Melbourne Olympics

India had three lifters at this Olympics. Valli Asari Mookan finished 12th in Men's 56 kg, Kamineni Eshwara Rao Improved his last Olympic performance by finishing 11th, and Dandamundi Rajagopal finished last in his record third Olympics as a lifter.

1960 Rome Olympics

India had a sole representation at the games in the form of Laxmi Kanta Das, who finished 12th in the Men's 60kg category.

1964 Tokyo Olympics

Two Indian lifters participated in the games. Mohon Lal Ghosh finished 14th in men's 56 kg category, and Laxmi Kanta Das finished 13th in Men's 60kg category.

1968 Mexico Olympics

Mohon Lal Ghosh was the only Indian lifter at the games who competed in his second Olympics by finishing 16th in Men's 60kg category.

1972 Munich Olympics

Men's 52 kg category was added for the first time at the games, and India had a participant named Anil Mondal, who finished 11th.

1976 Montreal Olympics

Anil Mondal was the sole participant for India in the 52kg category, and he did not finish.

1980 Moscow Olympics

Karunakaran Ekambaram in Men's 52kg category and Tamil Selwan Muniswamy in Men's 56kg category participated but both of them failed to lift Clean & Jerk weights so they did not finish.

Karunakaran Ekambaram

Karunakaran Ekambaram

1984 Los Angeles Olympics

Mahendran Kannan finished 10th in Men's 52 kg category, Deven Govindasami finished 10th in Men's 56kg category. These were the first top-10 finish for India, Kamalakanta Santra finished 15th in Men's 60 kg category.

1988 Seoul Olympics

India had two athletes in the same category for the first time when Gurunathan Muthuswamy and Raghavan Chandrasekaran competed in Men's 52 kg category and finished 11th and 19th respectively.

1992 Barcelona Olympics

Badathala Adisekhar finished 10th in Men's 52kg category, Ponnuswamy Rangaswamy came 18th in Men's 56kg.

1996 Atlanta Olympics

India had the largest team of 5 lifters at this Olympics who participated in Men's 54kg, 59kg, 64kg, 70kg, and 76kg.

2000 Sydney Olympics

 Karnam Malleshwari

This was an exceptional occasion for women lifters because women weightlifting made its debut here. India had one man and two women lifters. Karnam Malleshwari competing in Women's 69 kg, won a bronze medal, making her the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal and which also happened to be India's only medal at the games.

2004 Athens Olympics

India had only women lifters at the games, with a total of three women across Women's 48kg, 53kg, 63kg categories. Kunjarani Devi finished 4th in 48kg. Sanamacha Chanu also finished 4th but was disqualified after testing positive.

2008 Beijing Olympics

Indian weightlifting federation banned India after the doping scandal in 2006. So there were no lifters foR India at this games.

2012 London Olympics

There was one male (Katulu Ravi Kumar) and one female (Soniya Chanu) weightlifters at the games. They finished 15th and 7th respectively.

2016 Rio Olympics

Sathish Sivalingam (a two-time gold medal in commonwealth games) and Mirabai Chanu were the two lifters. Sathish Finished 11th and Mirabai failed all three attempts in Clean & Jerk Weights so did not finish.

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