The Tokyo Olympic games are just around the corner. The Summer edition of the Olympics are usually held every four years, however, the 2020 edition of the quad-annual summer games to be held in Tokyo between July 24 and August 9were postponed by a year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation. While India’s participation at the Olympic Games precedes the creation of the nation itself, the medal tally at these games have been quite dismal. Over the course of 100 years, the country has merely won 28 medals to its name so far since the 1900 edition.
The Summer Olympics are also the time of the year when the achievements of sportspersons at the highest level are remembered and celebrated. From Indian representatives (1900) to Independent India’s first medal to Sakshi Malik’s Bronze at the 2016 edition, here’s a run-through of all India’s medal tally at the Summer Olympics.
Norman Prichard – 1900, Paris: Indian ‘representatives’ under British colonial rule participated in five men’s events in athletics. Norman Prichard kicked off with two silver medals in Athletics (Men’s 200 metres and Men’s 200 metre hurdles).
Men’s hockey team – 1928 to 1956 (Gold run): For close to three decades, India was a dominant force in the sport of field hockey. Their Olympic gold affair started at the Amsterdam edition and continued until the 1956 games in Melbourne. The likes of the legendary Dhyan Chand and Balwant Singh among others won India eleven medals in Olympicsthat included eight gold medals and six successive gold medals from 1928 to 1956.
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav – Helsinki, 1952: Jadhav scripted history by winning the bronze medal in the men’s freestyle bantamweight (54 kg category).
Men’s hockey team – 1960 (Rome – Silver), 1964 (Tokyo – Gold): The country’s unparalleled golden streak came to an end in the Rome edition, where they won a silver after losing to Pakistan 1-0 in the final. However, they returned to Tokyo to reclaim the gold in 1964, by defeating Pakistan in the finals.
Men’s hockey team – 1968 (Mexico – Bronze), 1972 (Munich – Bronze), 1980 (Moscow – Gold): The great Indian hockey regime’s downfall started in Mexico, where they bagged a bronze. The result was the same in the following edition in Munich. However, they went on to win their eighth gold medal and probably the last in field hockey under the able leadership of Vasudevan Baskaran at Moscowin 1980.
Leander Paes – Atlanta, 1996: India were without any medal in the previous three editions (1984-1992), but Leander Paes got them to winning ways with a bronze. It was not only the country’s first in Tennis, he also inspired an entire generation to take up the sport.
Karnam Malleswari – Sydney, 2000: The weightlifter won the bronze medal this time in the 54kg category, thus becoming the first woman to do so.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore – Athens, 2004: Rathore not only became the first shooter from the country to bag the silver medal at the Olympics, but he is also the country’s first individual silver-medallist at the Games.
Beijing, 2008: Abhinav Bindra took a notch higher by bagging the gold medal in Men’s 10m Air Rifle category. He still remains India’s only Olympic gold medallist. And after a gap of 56 years, wrestler Sushil Kumar went on to win a Bronze in the men’s freestyle (66kg) category.
London 2012: The 2012 Summer Olympics in the British capital were the best ever medal tally for India. The Indian contingent bagged a total of six medals. After bagging a bronze in the previous edition, wrestler Sushil Kumar became the first Indian with multiple/successive individual Olympic medals when he won the silver men’s freestyle (66kg) category in London. Veteran wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt clinched a bronze medal in the men’s freestyle (60kg) category.
Saina Nehwal followed the suit by winning bronze in badminton. She became the country’s first Women’s singles player to clinch the medal in the sport. Boxer Mary Kom became the first Indian woman to win a medal in boxing with a bronze finish in the Women’s flyweight category. Shooter Gagan Narang joined the elite group of Indian marksmen when he won a bronze medal in the men’s 10m Air Rifle event.
Rio de Janerio, 2016: Breaking male dominance, Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal with her bronze medal finish in the Women’s freestyle 58 kg category. Meanwhile, PV Sindhu went a step closer to the elusive gold in badminton by reaching the finals of the 2016 London Olympics. She lost in the summit clash but became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the Olympics. She is also the youngest Indian (21 then) to achieve this feat.