There have been many Indians at Olympics who have made the nation proud with their sporting skills and talent. Know more about them in our KreedOn exclusive.
Indians at Olympics – Abhinav Bindra
Abhinav Bindra established himself as one of India’s finest shooters from a very young age. Aged only 15, he participated at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and two years later, he was the youngest Indian at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He won the gold medal in the 10 m air rifle event at the 2002 Asian Games at Busan and the gold in the pairs event of the same discipline at the 2006 Commonwealth Games at Melbourne. Bindra also won the world championship in 2006.
However, Abhinav Bindra was yet to put up a show at the Olympics. He reached the final round of the 10 m air rifle event at the 2004 Athens Olympics but ended last despite bettering the Olympic record.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Bindra scored 596/600 in the qualifying round and came fourth behind Finland’s Henri Hakkinen, reigning champion Zhu Qinan and Romania’s Alin Moldoveanu.
In the final, Bindra began with 10.7 and hit more than 10 in every shot of his. Coming into the final shot, Bindra was tied with Hakkinen for the gold. Hakkinen hit a 9.7 which put him in third place below Qinan. Bindra only needed a 10 to overtake Qinan and take the gold. He scored a 10.8- his highest of the finals.
Abhinav Bindra thus became India’s first ever individual gold medalist at the Olympics. Truly one of the greatest Indians at Olympics.
Wrestling was not one of the most popular sports in India as it did not have many memorable major performances following KD Jadhav’s bronze at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. However, Indian wrestling gave the country its most decorated individual Olympian- Sushil Kumar.
Sushil Kumar had already made a name for himself when he won the bronze medal at the 66kg freestyle wrestling event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Following his performances at the 2010 World Championships and the Commonwealth Games, hopes were high for him at the 2012 London Olympics.
In his first round match, Kumar lost the first bout but won the next two bouts to reach the quarter-finals where he beat Uzbekistan’s Ikhtiyor Navruzov. In the semi-finals, he defeated Kazakhstan’s Akhzurek Tanatarov. There was some controversy regarding the win as Tanatarov stated that Kumar had bitten his ear, a claim which was denied by Kumar himself.
Nevertheless, Sushil Kumar assured India of its fourth medal at the London Olympics. In the final, he was up against Japan’s Tatsuhiro Yonemitsu. He lost the match 4-1 and had to settle for the silver medal. However, he won the hearts of millions and gave India one of its finest sporting moments.
Indians at Olympics – Gagan Narang
Gagan Narang is undoubtedly one of the finest shooters from the list of Indians at Olympics. Narang already made a name for himself by his exploits at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in 2006 and 2010. At the 2006 Commonwealth Games, he won four gold medals in the individual and pairs events of the 10 m air rifle and 50 m air rifle 3 positions.
He replicated this performance at the 2010 Commonwealth Games as well, bettering his own world record score of 600 at the 10 m air rifle event. At the Asian Games, Narang won three bronze medals in 2006 and two silvers in 2010.
However, Gagan Narang’s crowning moment came at the 2012 London Olympics. At the
10 m air rifle event, reigning champion Abhinav Bindra failed to reach the final round but Narang managed to qualify in the third place. He went on to end the final round in third place, thus bagging the bronze. This was India’s first medal at the London Olympics.
Indians at Olympics – Mary Kom
Mary Kom is one of India’s finest sportswomen, there’s absolutely no doubt about that. Mary Kom won 5 successive gold medals at the World Boxing Amateur Championships.
The 2012 London Olympics was the first to include Women’s boxing and Mary Kom was one of India’s top medal hopes.
She participated in the 51 kg flyweight event and won her opening match against Poland’s Karolina Michalczuk 19-14. In the quarter-finals, Mary Kom defeated Tunisian Maroua Rahali 15-6 to reach the semi-finals and assure India of at least a bronze medal.
However, in the semi-finals, she was beaten by eventual gold medalist Nicola Adams and had to settle for the bronze. Nevertheless, she lived up to her expectations of bagging a medal. Truly, a magnificent performance by Magnificent Mary and one of the greats to represent Indians at Olympics.
A few months after Saina Nehwal’s bronze medal at the London Olympics, PV Sindhu shocked the world by defeating the Olympic Champion Li Xuerui at the Li Ning China Masters. She soon established herself as a brilliant player through her performances to come. She was touted as one of Indian at Olympics to win medal, and she didn’t disappoint.
Sindhu won the bronze medal at the World Championships in 2013 and 2014 in addition to her bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth and Asian Games. She was expected to do well at Rio Olympics. At the Olympics, Sindhu began well by winning her opening match21-8, 21-9. She went on to win her next two matches to win the group and reach the round of 16.
She defeated Tai Tzu-ying in the last 16 to reach the quarterfinals where she defeated second seed Wang Yihan. In the semi-finals, Sindhu defeated Nozomi Okuhara to assure India of a silver medal. In the final, Sindhu was up against top seed Carolina Marin. She won the first game but Marin won the next two games to win the gold. Nevertheless, this remains as India’s finest performance in badminton at the Olympics.
Indians at Olympics – Sakshi Malik
Sakshi Malik had won the bronze medal at the 2010 Junior Wrestling Championships and three years later, won the bronze medal at the Common wealth Boxing Championships. At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Malik won the silver medal at the 58 kg freestyle wrestling event.
Malik’s accolades persisted as she won the bronze at the Asian Boxing Championships in 2015. However, she did not have very high hopes of a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She won her first round match against Sweden’s Johanna Mattsson 5-4 and her round of 16 encounter against Moldova’s Mariana Cherdivara. However, Malik lost in the quarter-finals to eventual silver medalist Valeria Koblova 9-2.
Her only chance of a medal was in the repechage round. Malik thrashed Mongolian Purevdorjin Orkhun 12-3 to reach the bronze medal match. Here, she was to play Kyrgyzstan’s Aisuluu Tynybekova. Malik was trailing 0-5 but she rallied back to win the match 8-5 and clinch the bronze medal. By doing this, she became India’s first female wrestler to win a medal at the Olympics.
Indians at Olympics – Yogeshwar Dutt
Yogeshwar Dutt became a well-known name in the country by winning the gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games at Delhi in the 60kg freestyle wrestling event despite recovering from a career-threatening knee injury just prior to the tournament.
He had previously won the bronze at the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, nearly two weeks after losing his father. Yogeshwar was expected to do well at the 2012 London Olympics and began by winning his first round match against Bulgarian Anatolie Guidea.
However, he lost his round of 16 match against eventual silver medalist Besik Kudukhov and had to win the repechage to win the bronze medal. Dutt won his first two matches before beating North Korea’s Ri Jong-Myong to clinch the bronze medal and India’s 5th medal at the London Olympics. He represents the proud list of Indians at Olympics.
Indians at Olympics – Vijender Singh
Vijender Singh nearly missed out on the Olympic qualifiers due to injury but he managed to recover in time and qualified for the 2008 Olympics. Having won a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games two years back, Vijender was one of the Indian at Olympics expected to do well.
At Beijing, Vijender competed at the middleweight boxing event and began by bashing Gambia’s Badou Jack 13-2 in the opening round. He then defeated Thailand’s Anghan Chomphuphuang 13-3 to qualify for the quarter-finals.
There were two other Indian boxers who reached the quarter-finals but both were defeated. However, Vijender made the difference as he beat Ecuadorian Carlos Gongora to qualify for the semi-finals and assure India of at least a bronze. In the semi-finals, he was defeated by eventual silver medalist Emilio Correa of Cuba.
Indians at Olympics – Vijay Kumar
Before the 2012 London Olympics, Vijay Kumar had won plenty of accolades including six medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2010 (5 gold, 1 silver) and two bronze medals at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Games. He also won two silver medals at the ISSF World Shooting Championships in 2009 and 2011 at Beijing and Fort Benning respectively.
From Indians at Olympics in 2012 , Kumar failed to qualify for the final round of the 10 m air pistol event. However, he produced a memorable performance at the 25 m rapid fire pistol event. In the first round, Kumar bettered the then Olympic record of 583, scoring 585 and reached the final round.
In the final round, Kumar ended second and won the silver, thus giving India their second medal at the London Olympics.
Indian Field Hockey Team
The history of Indians at Olympics is incomplete without mentioning our hockey team. The Indian Hockey Team back in the early days was considered the strongest in the world. Hockey has brought India 8 medals at the Olympics. The first one of them came at Amsterdam in 1928. Led by Dhyan Chand, the Indian Hockey Team won the gold medal by winning every match by at least three goals and not conceding a single goal. Chand was the top scorer with 14 goals, an Olympic record.
India retained their title at the 1932 Games at Los Angeles by thrashing Japan and USA 11-1 and 24-1 respectively. Dhyan Chand and his men continued their rampage at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by beating hosts Germany 8-1 to clinch their third successive gold.
The goal against Germany was the only goal the Indians conceded that tournament.
Under the likes of K.D. Singh and Leslie Claudius, the Indian Hockey Team went on to win another three golds from 1948-1956. Their streak came to an end when they were beaten by Pakistan at thw final of the 1960 Rome Olympics.
India then won the gold medal at Tokyo before winning two bronze medals at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics. The 1976 Olympics was the first time in more than 50 years that India failed to win an Olympic medal in hockey. However, they won the gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Till date, this is India’s last Olympic medal in hockey.
Indians at Olympics – Saina Nehwal
When we talk about Indians at Olympics, how can one forget India’s badminton queen. Saina Nehwal made a name for herself by reaching the quarter-finals of the 2008 Olympics and later winning the Junior World Championships. She became the first Indian to win a Super Series Title in 2009. In the next few years, Saina was one of the finest badminton players in the world and she produced numerous stunning performances like clinching the gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the bronze at the Asian Games later that year.
Saina Nehwal was one of India’s best medal hopes entering the London Olympics. Seeded fourth, Saina comprehensively topped her group and proceeded to the last 16.
Here, Saina beat Dutchwoman Yao Jie to reach the quarter-finals where she would be up against two-time All England champion Tine Baun.
Saina beat Baun 21-15, 22-20 to reach the semi-finals where she would play top seed and favorite Wang Yihan. Wang beat Saina 21-13, 21-13 to reach the final and Saina Nehwal would now have to play the 3rd place play-off against Wang Xin to claim the bronze medal.
Xin took the first game 21-18 and was leading 1-0 in the second game before she sustained a knee injury. This propelled her to forfeit the match, making Saina Nehwal the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in badminton.