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International Olympic Day: A revisit to India's history at the Olympic Games

As the world celebrates the International Olympic Day, let's revisit India's history at the Olympic Games.

Rishabh Gupta Rishabh Gupta
New Delhi Updated on: June 23, 2020 21:40 IST
olympics, india at olympics, olympics history, international olympic day, olympic games
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

As the world celebrates the International Olympic Day, let's revisit India's history at the Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Day is celebrated every year since 1948 on June 23 to commemorate the beginning of the modern Olympics, which first took place on the same date in 1894. The day is a celebration of sports, health and well being. There are many events held during the week leading to the Olympic Day - most prominently the 'Olympic Day Run'. However, this year, the coronavirus pandemic has forced the athletes around the world to go virtual with their fitness sessions instead.

The Olympics, too, through its official social media handles, is raising awareness on mental and physical well being during the 2020 edition of the Olympic Day. It organized live training and fitness sessions with many leading athletes around the world in a programme called 'Olympic Day Workout'.

Under normal circumstances, the athletes and fans would currently be gearing up for the 32nd summer Olympics in Tokyo, which were scheduled to take place between July 24-August 9. However, the COVID-19 crisis has forced the postponement of the Games to the next year. 

As the world celebrates Olympic Day, we take a look at India's history at the Games. The country has won 28 medals at the summer Olympics, which include nine gold, seven silver and 12 bronze medals.

Let's take a look at India's triumphs in the summer Olympics in brief:

The First Medal:

India's first medal at the summer Olympics has remained a topic of dispute. In the nation's first appearance at the Olympics in 1900, Norman Pritchard, the sole athlete representing India, won two silver medals in the track-and-field events. However, even as the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF) lists Pritchard to have competed for Great Britan, the official record of International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to regard Pritchard as having competed for India. Thus, the official Olympic record dates India's first medal at the Games back in 1900.

Norman Pritchard was born in Calcutta in British India.

The domination in Hockey:

India had to wait for 28 years for their next Olympic medal. However, the 1928 edition triggered a series of Gold medals for India in Men's Hockey. The hockey team eventually won the gold medals in 1932 (Los Angeles), 1936 (Berlin), 1948 (London) and 1952 (Helsinki), 1956 (Melbourne), 1964 (Tokyo) and 1980 (Moscow). Throughout this time, the hockey team also won the silver and bronze medals in various editions.

Until the 1960 Olympics in Rome, the Indian men's hockey team boasted of a stunning winning streak of 30-0 at the Olympics. There may have been a significant fall in India's performances in hockey since its last medal win in 1980, but India's record still stands as the best in the category, with eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

Individual successes:

Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav was the first athlete from independent India to win a medal at the Olympics. He won a bronze medal in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics in men's freestyle bantamweight.

The country endured a 40-year wait for its next individual glory at the Olympics. Tennis star Leander Paes ended the wait with a bronze medal in the 1996 edition in Atlanta. Four years later, Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian female athlete to win an Olympic medal, as she secured a bronze in women's 69 kg weightlifting event.

At the turn of the century, India saw many individual medallists at the Olympics. The nation finally rejoiced in 2008 when Abhinav Bindra (shooting) became the first athlete to win a gold medal. He achieved the feat in men's 10m air rifle category.

In terms of medals, India's best outing at the Olympics was in 2012, when six athletes secured a podium finish. These included Vijay Kumar (shooting), Sushil Kumar (wrestling), Saina Nehwal (badminton), Mary Kom (boxing), Gagan Narang (shooting) and Yogeshwar Dutt (wrestling).

List of Olympic medals won by India:

Name/Team Edition Sport Event Medal
Norman Pritchard 1900 Olympics Athletics Men's 200-metre Silver
Norman Pritchard 1900 Olympics Athletics Men's 200-metre hurdles Silver
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1928 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1932 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1936 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1948 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1952 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav 1952 Olympics Wrestling Men's Freestyle bantamweight Bronze
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1956 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1960 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Silver
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1964 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1968 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Bronze
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1972 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Bronze
Indian Men's Hockey Team 1980 Olympics Field Hockey Field Hockey Gold
Leander Paes  1996 Olympics Tennis Men's Singles Bronze
Karnam Malleswari  2000 Olympics Weightlifting Women's 69 kg Bronze
Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore 2004 Olympics Shooting Men's Double Trap Silver
Abhinav Bindra 2008 Olympics Shooting Men's 10m air rifle Gold
Vijender Singh 2008 Olympics  Boxing Middleweight Bronze
Sushil Kumar 2008 Olympics Wrestling Men's freestyle 66 kg Bronze
Vijay Kumar 2012 Olympics Shooting Men's 25m rapid fire pistol Silver
Saina Nehwal 2012 Olympics Badminton Women's Singles Bronze
Mary Kom 2012 Olympics Boxing Women's Flyweight Bronze
Gagan Narang 2012 Olympics Shooting Men's 10m air rifle Bronze
Sushil Kumar  2012 Olympics  Wrestling Men's freestyle 66 kg Silver
Yogeshwar Dutt 2012 Olympics Wrestling Men's freestyle 60 kg Bronze
P.V. Sindhu 2016 Olympics Badminton Women's Singles  Silver
Sakshi Malik 2016 Olympics Wrestling Women's freestyle 58 kg Bronze

 

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