India at Olympics

India Olympics

India Olympics

India made its first-ever appearance in an Olympics back in 1900 with just one athlete representing the nation. It was athlete Norman Pritchard who was the only Indian to participate in the Summer Olympic Games held in Paris, France. Norman Pritchard brought 2 silver medals in athletics for India that time. In 1920, India sent its first team to the Belgium Summer Olympic Games. Talking about India’s involvement in this prestigious sports event, India first participated in the Paris Summer Olympic Games in 1900. But their regular feature started in 1920. Since then, it has been a regular feature in India’s sports calendar with the nation marking the presence in each of the editions since.

India also the debut in the Winter Olympic Games for the first time in 1964. After that India has been a regular participant of the Olympic Games event till the present. talking about India’s performance in the multi-sport Olympics even there was a time when the Indian Hockey team was no. 1 in the whole world in Hockey and also very dominant in Olympic Games. The Indian Hockey team won eleven medals in twelve Olympic Games in between 1920-1980. The count included 8 gold medals that too 6 successive gold medals from 1928–1956. So far, India has appeared in 35 Olympic Games and their appearance in the Tokyo Summer Olympics will mark their 36th appearance in the Olympic events.

India’s Achievement at the Olympics
India has seen some good performers in the Olympics, who have made us proud at the World platform. It was in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics when Abhinav Bindra bagged the first-ever individual Gold Medal for India, writing history. Here’s the list of winners that saw the emergence of India in different sports at such a prestigious event of the Olympic Games:

Team/Name Event Sport Games Year Gold Silver Bronze
Norman Pritchard Paris Athletics Men’s 200 m 1900       –     1      –
Norman Pritchard Paris Athletics Men’s 200 m hurdles 1900       –     1      –
National Team Amsterdam Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1928      1      –      –
National Team Los Angeles Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1932      1     –     –
National Team Berlin Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1936      1     –     –
National Team London Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1948      1     –     –
National Team Helsinki Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1952      1     –     –
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav Helsinki Wrestling Men’s Freestyle bantamweight 1952      –     –     1
National Team Melbourne Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1956     1    –     –
National Team Rome Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1960    –     1      –
National Team Tokyo Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1964     1     –     –
National Team Mexico City Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1968      –     –     1
National Team Munich Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1972      –     –     1
National Team Moscow Field Hockey Men’s Competition 1980     1    –     –
Leander Paes Atlanta Tennis Men’s Singles 1996      –     –     1
Karnam Malleswari Sydney Weightlifting Women’s 69kgs 2000      –     –     1
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore Athens Shooting Men’s Double trap 2004    –     1      –
Abhinav Bindra Beijing Shooting Men’s 10m Air rifle 2008     1    –     –
Vijender Singh Beijing Boxing Middleweight 2008      –     –     1
Sushil Kumar Beijing Wrestling Men’s freestyle 66kg 2008      –     –     1
Vijay Kumar London Shooting Men’s 25 rapid-fire Pistol 2012    –     1      –
Sushil Kumar London Wrestling Men’s freestyle 66kg 2012    –     1      –
Saina Nehwal London Badminton Women’s Singles 2012      –     –     1
Mary Kom London Boxing Women’s flyweight 2012      –     –     1
Gagan Narang London Shooting Men’s 10m Air rifle 2012      –     –     1
Yogeshwar Dutt London Wrestling Men’s Freestyle 60kg 2012      –     –     1
P.V Sindhu Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Badminton Women’s Singles 2016    –     1      –
Sakshi Malik Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Wrestling Women’s freestyle 58kg 2016      –     –     1


Flag Bearers for India in Olympics:

Event Year Season Flag Bearer Sports
Antwerp, Belgium 1920 Summer Purma Banerjee Athletics
Los Angeles 1932 Summer Lal Shah Bhokhari Field Hockey
Berlin 1936 Summer Major Dhyanchand Field Hockey
London 1948 Summer Tallimerain AO Football
Helsinki 1952 Summer Balbir Singh Sr.  Field Hockey
Melbourne 1956 Summer Balbir Singh Sr.  Field Hockey
Tokyo 1964 Summer Gurbachan Singh Randhawa Athletics
Munich 1972 Summer D.N Devine Jones Boxing
Los Angeles 1984 Summer Zafar Iqbal Field Hockey
Calgary, Alberta, Canada 1988 Winter Kishor Ratna Alpine Skiing
Seoul, Korea 1988 Summer Kartar Dhillon Singh Wrestling
Barcelona, Spain 1992 Summer Shiny Abraham Wilson Athletics
Atlanta, Georgia 1996 Summer Pargat Singh Field Hockey
Nagano Japan 1998 Winter Shiva Keshavan Luge
Sydney 2000 Summer Leander Paes Tennis
Salt Lake, Utah 2002 Winter Shiva Keshavan Luge
Athens 2004 Summer Anju Bobby George Athletics
Turin Italy 2006 Winter Neha Ahuja Alpine Skiing
Beijing 2008 Summer Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore Shooting
Vancouver, Canada 2010 Winter Shiva Keshavan Luge
London 2012 Summer Sushil Kumar Wrestling
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2016 Summer Abhinav Bindra Shooting
PyeongChang, South Korea 2018 Winter Shiva Keshavan Luge
Tokyo 2020 Summer


Medals by Sports:

Sport Gold Silver Bronze Total
Field Hockey 8 1 2 11
Wrestling 1 4 5
Shooting 1 2 1 4
Athletics 2 2
Badminton 1 1 2
Boxing 2 2
Tennis 1 1
Weightlifting 1 1
Total 9 7 12 28


Total Medals Tally:
Silver -7
Bronze- 12

Hockey- India’s Rule of Gold
Hockey team of India has been the biggest contributor in earning glory for India at Olympics. It has secured 8 out of the 9 medals for India in the overall tally of Gold Medals. It was in 1928 when under manager GD Sondhi’s 14-member squad of Hockey team was sent to the Summer Olympics of 1928. During the years of 1928-1980, the team earned 8 gold medals, making India one of the toughest contenders in the sport of Hockey. The hockey team also won 1 silver and 2 Bronze medals. The fact that India was the first non-European team to be a part of the International Hockey Federation. It also went on to win its first Olympic Gold medal. Until 1960, the Indian team remained unbeaten in the Olympics. India’s hockey team is the most successful team ever in the Olympics, having won eight gold, one silver, and two bronze medals. But after winning the Gold medal in 1980, the Indian Hockey team’s performance has declined, and the team has failed to win a medal of any color, since.

Wrestling has earned India 5 of its 28 medals in Olympic Games. The medal tally in wrestling includes 1 Silver and 4 Bronze medals. In 1952 Summer Olympics, Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav was the first Indian wrestler to represent India at Olympics. He won a Bronze medal in the Men’s Freestyle Bantamweight category. There was a lull period for Wrestling in the 19th Century after 1852, but a big leap of faith moment came in 2008 when wrestler Sushil Kumar won a Bronze medal in the Men’s freestyle 66Kg category. In 2012, Sushil Kumar improved his performance by bagging a Silver medal at the London Olympics. Along with Sushil Kumar, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt obtained a Bronze medal in Men’s freestyle 60 kg category.  In 2016, at Rio Summer Olympics, Wrestler Sakshi Malik made the most of the Repechage round and became the first Indian woman to win a medal in Olympics, earning a bronze medal in Women’s 58 kg category.

Indian Shooting at the Olympics has been one of the strongest suits for the nation, however, the results haven’t been as desired. Major Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore got India its first medal in a Shooting event when he won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics in the Men’s Double trap category. Just in the next Summer Olympics shooter, Abhinav Bindra created history by winning a Gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics in the men’s 10 m Air rifle category. Thereby, he also became the first individual of the country to ever win a gold medal at any Olympic event. In 2012 London Olympics, shooter Vijay Kumar won a silver medal and Gagan Narang won bronze medal respectively. Till now shooting has brought India a total of 4 medals in Olympics with 1 Gold, 2 silvers and 1 bronze medal.

India’s recent performance in the Olympics:

2008 Beijing Olympics
In 2008 Summer Olympics that took place at Beijing, 57 athletes across 12 sports participated from India. For the first time since the 1928 Summer Olympics, Indian National Hockey Team was not participating in the Olympics. 2008 Beijing Olympics also saw India emerge with 1 gold and 2 Bronze medals. Shooter Abhinav Bindra set a record of being the first Indian individual to ever win a Gold medal at Olympic Event. He won the Gold medal in 10m Air Rifle shooting category. Boxer Vijender Singh represented India in the middleweight category where he won a bronze medal. He beat the former Carlos Góngora of Ecuador 9–4 in the quarterfinals on 20 August 2008 that assured him of a medal in the event. However, he lost 5–8 to Cuba’s Emilio Correa in the semi-finals on 22 August 2008 and had to settle with a bronze medal. In the same event, wrestler Sushil Kumar also won a bronze medal in Men’s freestyle 66kg category. It was the first time since 1952 when India had won more than 2 medals in a single Olympic event. All the Medal winners were given a grand welcome after return to India.

Name Sport Event Medal No. of Medals Date
Abhinav Bindra Shooting Men’s 10m Air Rifle Gold 1 August 11
Vijender Singh Boxing Middleweight 75 Kg Bronze 1 August 20
Sushil Kumar Wrestling Men’s freestyle 66 kg Bronze 1 August 21


2012 London Olympics
In the 2012 London Olympics, a total of 83 athletes, 60 men, and 23 women, competed in 13 sports in the Summer event. India marked its return in wrestling in the following year of Summer Olympics after the doping scandal during the Beijing Olympics that led to the suspension of two years on the Indian wrestling.  Some old faces such as Sushil Kumar and Abhinav Bindra also featured in the multi-sport event. 2008 Beijing Olympics Gold medalist Abhinav Bindra failed to qualify for while wrestler Sushil Kumar went on to improve his performance and he won a silver medal 2012 London Olympics. Sushil Kumar was made the opening Flagbearer for the country. Wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt won the bronze medal in the 60 kg category. he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 2013. He became the third wrestler after KD Jadhav and Sushil Kumar to win an Olympic medal. He defeated Ri Jong-Myong of North Korea to win the bronze medal thus winning the fifth medal for India. Later on, he was awarded Padma Shri in 2013 by the Government of India.

Shooter Vijay Kumar also won a silver medal in the Rapid Fire Pistol category. He finished with an average score of 9.767 and had a score of 293 with 7 inner 10s in the first stage. With his silver medal, he brought India its second medal at London Olympics.    Shooter Gagan Narang was the second and overall third shooter to bring a medal for the country who won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the Men’s 10 m Air Rifle event with a final score of 701.1.

Badminton player Saina Nehwal represented India in Badminton where she won the bronze medal at the London Olympics when China’s Wang Xin retired from the match after an injury with the match at 18–21, 0–1. That marked India’s another count in the 2012 London Olympics.

Boxer Mary Kom was the first Indian woman to qualify for the Boxing event. She participated in 51kg category where she had to settle for a bronze medal after her defeat against Nicola Adams of UK. She ensured India another medal in the 2012 London Olympics. Mary Kom was also the closing flag-bearer for India at the event. Overall, it was India’s best Olympic Game in the history as they notched up their medal tally of 6 medals.

Name Sport Event Medal No. of Medals Date
Gagan Narang Shooting Men’s 10m Air Rifle Bronze 1 30 July
Vijay Kumar Shooting Men’s 25 m rapid fire Pistol Silver 1 3 August
Saina Nehwal Badminton Women’s Singles Bronze 1 4 August
Mary Kom Boxing Women’s Flyweight Bronze 1 8 August
Yogeshwar Dutt Wrestling Men’s freestyle 60 kg Bronze 1 11 August
Sushil Kumar Wrestling Men’s freestyle 66 kg Silver 1 12 August


2016 Rio Summer Olympics
Total of 117 athletes participated in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games that included 63 men and 54 women across 15 sports. Three similar faces from 2012 London Olympics featured in the 2016 Olympic Event. Saina Nehwal, Yogeshwar Dutt, and Gagan Narang again represented India in their respective games. However, India could only win 2 medals at the event. Both the medals were silver and bronze medals respectively.

Shooter Abhinav Bindra was the opening flag bearer for India. Artistic gymnast and Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Dipa Karmakar, Tennis player Sania Mirza also participated in the event although they returned empty-handed. However, that year saw two female athletes winning at the Olympics for India.

Badminton player P.V Sindhu defeated Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the semi-finals to have a final showdown with Spain’s top seed Carolina Marín. Though she lost to her in the finals settling up with a silver medal.

Wrestler Sakshi Malik bagged a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the 58kg category thereby she became the first Indian woman wrestler to do so. She was also the closing Flag-bearer for India at the Event.


Name Sport Event Medal No. of Medals Date
Sakshi Malik Wrestling Women’s single Bronze 1 August 17
P.V Sindhu Badminton Women’s freestyle 58 kg Silver 1 August 19


India’s participation In Tokyo Olympics 2020
India will contest in next year’s Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics with currently 11 athletes qualified for the event. 7 out of 11 athletes are shooters that include 3 men shooters and 4 women shooters. Archery team includes Atanu Das, Tarundeep Rai, and Praveen Jadhav.

However, Indian men’s and women’s Hockey team is yet to qualify for the next year’s Tokyo Olympics. The men’s and women’s team must reach the final of the FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar and Hiroshima to play in the Olympic Qualifiers in October and November. Both the men’s and women’s teams are the favorites to win the Series Finals.

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