India at the Olympics

The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896 and it took India only four years before seeing their first representation at the Summer Olympic Games. It all started for India in 1900 when they sent lone athlete Norman Pritchard to Paris where he won two medals in Men’s 200 meters and Men’s 200-meter hurdles. India has participated in every Summer Games since then, sending their first Olympic team in 1920 comprising four athletes and two wrestlers. It was, however, not till 1928 when they saw their next medal and thus began the domination of the Indian hockey team. The pre-Independence Indian hockey team dominated the Olympics from 1928 to 1936 winning three titles. In the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, India beat Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Switzerland before defeating Netherlands in the final to claim their first ever gold. In 1932 Summer, Olympics, India defeated USA 24 – 1, the largest margin of victory in Olympic history. In 1936 Olympics final, they defeated Germany 8 – 1, the largest margin of victory ever in an Olympic final.

 From 1948, an independent India began sending delegations of more than 50 athletes, selected by various sports federations. The delegation was headed by a chef-de-mission. The Indian field hockey team won gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics by defeating Great Britain in the final. It was the first gold medal for India as an independent nation. They continued their dominance by winning the sixth straight title by defeating Pakistan in the final in 1956 Summer Olympics.  Also winning in 1964 and 1980, the Indian Hockey team has recorded eight titles in field hockey thus leading the leader board.

Originally scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was postponed in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and is held largely behind closed doors with no public spectators permitted under the state of emergency. Despite being rescheduled for 2021, the event retains the name Tokyo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes. This is the first time that the Olympic Games have been postponed and rescheduled, rather than cancelled.

On Day 1 of the Games Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu gave India its first medal at Tokyo 2020 as she won the silver medal in the women’s 49kg category as China’s Zhihu Hou took gold. China’s Zhihu lifted 94kg to create an Olympic record while a new Olympic record was registered by Mirabai Chanu with a successful lift of 115kg in clean and jerk. The Indian women’s hockey team began their campaign on a poor note, losing 1-5 to Netherlands. In table tennis singles event, Manika Batra won her first-round match against Tin-Tin Ho of Great Britain in straight games. In tennis, Sumit Nagal won his first-round singles match against 2018 Asian Games gold medallist Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan. Indian badminton men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty overcame a difficult challenge from the Chinese Taipei’s duo of Yang Lee and Chi-Lin Wang. In men’s hockey, India beat New Zealand 3-2 in the Pool A match as they recovered from a bad start early in the match.

As of July 24th 2021, India has won 9 Gold medals, 7 Silver medals and 12 Bronze medals; giving the country a totality of 28 medals. With the expectations set high after the win of the silver medals; it looks like India will finally go back to show their dominance at the Olympics as the hockey team once did.

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