India at the Olympics: Wrestling – Best performances by India
If there is one sport of which India has always had a rich history, it would be Wrestling. So how have our wrestlers performed at the Olympics over the years?
Wrestling is one of the few sports which featured in every Olympics right from 1896. Independent India won its first individual Olympic medal in Wrestling, but sadly after that, there was nothing to show for half a century. There are two types of Wrestling- Freestyle and Greco-Roman, where the second one is only for men at the Olympics. India has a total of 5 medals in Wrestling at the Olympics, and all of them came in the Freestyle category.
Let us take a look at some of the best performances by Indian wrestlers at the Olympics:
Khashabha Dadasaheb Jadhav (Men's 57 kg freestyle):
Popularly known as K.D Jadhav, he was the first Indian athlete to win an individual Olympic medal. He achieved this feat in Men's 57 kg freestyle at the 1952 Helsinki games, winning a bronze medal. After him, there was not much success for Indian wrestlers at the Olympics.
Sushil Kumar (Men's 66 kg freestyle):
Sushil Kumar broke the medal drought for India in Wrestling by winning a bronze medal in 66 kg Men's freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was seen as a role model by youngsters who were taking up the sport. The wrestler was the Flagbearer for India at the 2012 London Olympics and also won a silver medal in the same category. On top of all this, he is the only athlete in India to have more than one individual Olympic medal.
Yogeshwar Dutt (Men's 60 kg freestyle):
Yogeshwar Dutt, a wrestler turned politician was once a prevalent name in the wrestling circle. He won a bronze medal in Men's 60 Kg freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics, and he is also two times Asian champion and commonwealth champion. The wrestler was awarded the Padma Shri award in 2013. He has an academy in Haryana where wrestlers come to get trained under him.
Sakshi Malik (Women's 58 kg freestyle):
Sakshi Malik won a bronze medal in the 58kgs freestyle category at the 2016 Rio Olympics, becoming the first female wrestler to win an Olympic medal for India. The grappler from Rohtak was awarded Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2016 and Padma Shri in 2017 by the Indian government.
Keshav Mangave (Men's 62 kg freestyle):
Keshav Mangave was an Indian wrestler who was born on 10 June 1926. He competed in the Men's freestyle featherweight category at the 1952 Helsinki games, where he ended up finishing fourth.
Sudesh Kumar (Men's 52 kg freestyle):
Sudesh Kumar was a former Indian wrestler who was born on 10 March 1950. The wrestler was part of both the 1968 and 1972 Olympics, but his best performance came up at the 1972 Munich games, where he finished 4th. He was also awarded the Arjuna award for Wrestling.
Prem Nath (Men's 57 kg freestyle):
Prem Nath was a freestyle wrestler who was born on 09 July 1955. He put up a great show at the 1972 Olympics, where he finished fourth in Men's 57 kg Bantamweight freestyle. The highlight of his career was gold in the 1974 Commonwealth Championship. The president of India awarded him the Arjuna award, and he also served in the Delhi police.
Jagmander Balyan Singh (Men's 68 kg freestyle):
Jagmandar Singh Balyan represented India in back to back Olympics at the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. The 65-years-old best performance came up in Men's 68 kg freestyle at the 1980 Olympics, where he finished fourth.
Rajinder Singh (Men's 74 kg freestyle):
Rajinder Singh is a former Indian wrestler who hails from Haryana. He was a wrestler with two gold medals in Commonwealth and one in the 1978 Asian games. The wrestler represented India in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. He was very close to have another medal on a global stage, but finished 4th in the 1984 Olympics. He was honoured with the Arjuna award in 1979, and now is a retired DIG Haryana police.