India at the Commonwealth Games
From humble starts to exuberant podium finishes……the journey of a nation……INDIA!!!
India has been a remarkably constant participant in the Commonwealth Games, appearing in all but four events (1930, 1950, 1962 & 1986). Since their début at the Commonwealth Games in 1934, they have won 503 medals – 181 gold, 173 silver & 149 bronze, with Jaspal Rana being the most decorated Indian athlete with 15 medals – 9 gold, 4 silver & 2 bronze.
Indian competitors first featured in the Commonwealth Games, then known as the British Empire Games, in 1934. Six Indian athletes qualified in ten track and field events and one wrestling event at the 1934 CWG in London. At their maiden Commonwealth Games, India managed to win just one medal.
Who was the first Indian to take part in Commonwealth Games?
Rashid Anwar, a wrestler, was the first Indian contingent to win a medal in the Commonwealth Games, securing bronze in the men’s 74 kg freestyle wrestling category at the 1934 Games.
Unfortunately, the first several events proved extremely difficult for the country. Following independence, India primarily featured in athletics, but medals were scarce until 1958 when things began to improve.
At the 1958 Cardiff Games, sprinting icon, Milkha Singh became the first Indian to win gold at the Commonwealth Games when he secured a podium finish in the men’s 440-yard sprint. In the same event, India claimed another gold medal when heavyweight wrestler Lila Ram emerged victorious in the men’s 100 kg freestyle category.
Furthermore, the growth of Indian wrestling in the 1970s and 1980s was crucial to the nation’s enhanced prospects at the event.
Joining the wrestlers were Indian weightlifters, who rose to the challenge and won multiple honors for the country. Raghavan Chandrasekaran, a two-time Olympian weightlifter, won three gold medals in the flyweight category at the 1990 Commonwealth Games and three silver medals in the bantamweight division at the 1994 event.
The shooters, meanwhile, have earned the most honors for India at the Commonwealth Games, with 135 medals. The Indian shooters were instrumental in India’s best performance at the CWG, which transpired in 2010. India finished second in the medals tally with 101 medals – 39 gold, 26 silver & 36 bronze. CWG 2010 is India’s most memorable Commonwealth Games to date.
While men topped the victor’s list in the early years, Indian women have excelled in several recent events.
Track and field specialists Stephanie D’Souza and Elizabeth Davenport made history as the first Indian women to contest in the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff in 1958. At the 1978 Games, Shuttlers Ami Ghia and Kanwal Singh became the first Indian women to obtain a Games medal, capturing bronze in women’s doubles.
Since 1978, Indian women athletes have taken great strides. Manika Batra was the most successful Indian at the Gold Coast Games, winning four medals – 2 gold, 1 silver & 1 bronze. India finished third overall with 66 medals.
Throughout the 2000s, India has constantly been among the top five nations in the medals chart and is now a powerhouse team at the Commonwealth Games. Indian competitors hope to extend their hot streak in Birmingham, where CWG 2022 will commence on July 28.