A look back at some of India's best Olympic wins

Winning hearts and medals on global platforms.

Harper's Bazaar India

The Olympic torch is nearing its final destination in Paris, the city hosting the upcoming 2024 Olympic Games. With just 20 days to go, the excitement is building up globally, while India looks forward to adding new records to their historic achievements. Speaking of achievements, this would be a good time to commemorate some of our most influential wins at the Olympics. 

Since the debut of the Olympics, Indian athletes have achieved significant milestones, maintaining their reputation as global sporting legacies. With a total of 35 medals earned throughout the country's history of participation, here are some of the most significant victories in the books. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Neeraj Chopra, Track and Field category 

Neeraj Chopra, the Indian track and field athlete, became the second Indian after Abhinav Bindra to win an individual gold medal. This historic win marked the country's first-ever medal in the track and field category. He set a remarkable record with an 87.58m throw in his finals, winning the coveted "golden title" of the 2020 Olympics. His dedication to the sport goes well beyond the Olympics, which he demonstrated across multiple global platforms such as the Stockholm League, Asian Games, World Athletics Championships, and Kuortane Games to name a few. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Men's Hockey Team 

Hockey, a sport rooted in India's sporting legacy has never failed to make the country proud. Our most recent win was at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 when the Indian team bagged a bronze medal. Under the guidance of Captain Manpreet Singh, the men’s hockey team demonstrated excellent teamwork, delivering a legendary win that resonated globally, showcasing India's formidable unity.

Their passion for the sport has been evident with the eight historic gold wins in the years 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952,1956,1964, and 1980. These remarkable victories not only establish a legacy for the game but also a lifestyle legacy for their homeland, making an indelible mark on the sporting world.

Tokyo 2020 - PV Sindhu, Badminton

PV Sindhu began playing badminton at the age of eight and entered the international circuit at 14. Since then, she has earned multiple titles and accolades including the youngest Olympic medalist, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award as well as the Padma Shri for her excellent performance in sports. Sindhu created history by becoming the first Indian woman to win two individual Olympic medals. She won a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics, making her the first Indian woman to achieve this milestone.

London 2012 Mary Kom, Women's Flyweight Category

An Indian boxer, politician, and former member of the Rajya Sabha, Mary Kom is one of India's foremost sporting heroes. She has made an impact both inside the boxing ring as well as in the Indian parliament. In the 2014 film Mary Kom, actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas portrayed the famed Indian boxer, capturing her remarkable story.

Kom was the first female boxer to represent India at the 2012 Olympics, where she won a bronze medal in the flyweight (48-51 kg) category. Apart from the Olympics, Kom has numerous records in Asian championships and AIBA world boxing and continues to inspire Indian female athletes today. 

London 2012 - Saina Nehwal, Badminton 

One of India's most successful badminton players, Saina Nehwal made history after she won a bronze medal for India at the 2012 Olympics. Her outstanding performance at the Olympic Games and other global platforms, such as the Commonwealth Games and the All England Open, significantly contributed to the sport's popularity in India. Interestingly, she is also the only Indian sportsperson to have won at least one medal at every Badminton World Federation (BWF) major including the World Championships, the World Junior Championships, and the Olympics.

Beijing 2008 - Abhinav Bindra, Men's 10-Metre Air Rifle

The great Indian shooter, who penned down his success story in A Shot at History, raised the Indian flag waving at its highest in 2008. He nabbed India's first-ever Olympic gold medal in the men's air rifle category, bringing immense pride to his motherland. The nation celebrated this memorable by marking August 11, 2008, as a significant milestone. Bindra set the bar really high with his outstanding performance, which continues to inspire our younger generations.

Athens 2004 - Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Men's Double-Trap shooting Category

Shooting has been an important Olympic sport for India, contributing to the many medals that the country has won. Of these, four have come from shooting. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a former soldier, showed true patriotism with his memorable win at the Olympics. He became the first Indian to grace the nation with a silver medal in the men's double-trap category at the global Olympic Games in 2004. Shooting as a sport requires intense concentration and determination, and Rathore's military background surely aided his win at the Olympics.

Additionally, Rathore has earned a record-breaking total of 35 international medals across various sporting platforms for India. His achievements were a great source of inspiration for Abhinav Bindra, encouraging him to perform to the best of his capabilities, as quoted in several of his interviews.

Sydney 2000 - Karnam Malleswar, Weightlifting 54kg Category

Karnam Malleswari set a significant milestone for India during the early 2000s on the Olympic podium. Not only did she excel as a weightlifter, but also secured a bronze medal for India in the 54kg weightlifting category, making her the first Indian woman to win a medal for India during the Olympic Games.

Malleswari is still labelled as the only Indian weightlifter to have won a medal for the country. It was a significant moment for all female athletes in the country. Her influence in the Sydney 2000 Olympics earned her the title of ‘The Iron Lady’, symbolising her strength and resilience. Her dedication to the sport led her to establish the Karnam Malleswari Foundation, a weightlifting academy to help promote the sport and make historic impacts worldwide.

Paris 1900 - Norman Pritchard, Hurdle 200m Race

India and Norman Pritchard both made their debut at the Paris Olympics in 1900. India won its first-ever Olympic medal, while Norman Pritchard, a British Indian athlete, represented India and secured two silver medals—one in the 200m hurdle race and another in the 200m sprints with a time of 22.8 seconds to the finish line. He was a strong competitor in running and hurdles. Apart from sports, Pritchard also tried his hand at acting and appeared in several Hollywood movies under the name, Norman Trevor.

Lead Image credits: Pexels

Image credits: Olympic Games website

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