There is no more prestigious honour than representing your nation at the Olympic Games. The summer event is the pinnacle of any sports person’s career, as they have the opportunity to become immortalised in the history of the nation’s sport forever.
Of course, the national sport remains cricket, and Indian, as of July 22, are the 3/1 favourites to win the T20 World Cup with Betway. However, There have been memorable performances for the Indian team throughout the history of the Olympics, which has seen the country win 35 medals in total. All medals have been won in the Summer Olympics, with ten of those being gold. But, which athletes are the Indian gold medallists at the Olympic Games?
Indian Field Hockey Team
Much of India’s early success at the Olympic Games came in field hockey, as they were dominant between 1928 and 1980. No team has ever achieved as much success at the Olympics in a specific sport, with the men’s team winning gold at eight of the Games between those years. The success in 1928 delivered a first ever top prize for India at the Olympics in the Netherlands, as they won all five games that they played. In fact, India wouldn’t lose an Olympic hockey match until 1960 when they were beaten in the final.
Between 1928 and 1980, India won a staggering eight golds, one silver, and two bronze medals. The only disappointment during that period was their showing in the 1978 Olympics, as they were eliminated in the group stage. After a disappointing period between 1984 and 2016, India could be on the comeback trail for Olympic success once again, as they won bronze at the Tokyo Games last year.
It was a long wait for India when it comes to an individual gold medal at the Olympics, but that finally arrived in Beijing in 2008. Bindra remains one of only two Indian athletes to have won an individual gold medal at the Olympics, with his success coming in the 10-meter air rifle event. There was certainly pressure on the experienced athlete going into the Beijing games, as there was an expectancy that he was the man to end their long medal drought. Bindra went into the competition as the reigning World Champion.
He wasn’t able to add further success for his nation at the Olympics later on though, as he could only finish fourth at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. However, he remains one of the most celebrated athletes from the nation, as he won a total of 150 medals throughout his 22-year career, which also included four golds at the Commonwealth Games. Since his retirement, his work has continued away from competition, as he served as a goodwill ambassador for the Rio Games and is a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
One discipline that India has often struggled for any colour of medal has been in athletics. However, in 2020 that changed, as Neeraj Chopra delivered an iconic moment, as India won their first gold in track or field in Tokyo. The star took home the top prize in the Men’s Javelin throw, as recorded a competition-best distance of 87.58. That was nearly a metre further than Jakub Vadlejch, who finished the competition with the silver medal.
Chopra has enjoyed success throughout his career, and there promises to be a lot more to come from the 24-year-old. His appearance at the Olympics last year was only his first, and he looks set to be one of the nations leading hopes for the games in Paris in three years time. In achieving the gold medal, he became the youngest ever Indian athlete to win the top prize in an individual event, and also the only star that has won a gold medal on his Olympic debut. At present, he is gearing up to defend his Commonwealth title in the same discipline. He could be a standout star this summer in Birmingham, as he has already beaten his national record after recording a distance of 89.94m at a Diamond League meeting in Stockholm, Sweden.
Most Decorated Indian Olympians
Unsurprisingly, the list of multiple medallists from India is dominated by hockey players, given the success that the nation achieved between 1928 and 1980. The most successful Indian Olympians in history are Leslie Claudius and Udham Singh, who both won three golds and one silver. Singh represented India in every Olympics between 1952 and 1964, while Claudius won his final field hockey gold at the Games in 1960. Richard James Allen, Dhyan Chand, and Randhir Singh Gentle are among several Indian stars that have won three golds.
Meanwhile, besides hockey, Norman Pritchard has won the most medals for India in individual events, as he won two silvers in athletics in 1980. Sushil Kumar and P. V. Sindhu have both also won two medals at the Olympics. Kumar won a silver and bronze at the 2008 and 2012 Games, while Sindhu picked up a silver and bronze in badminton at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics.
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