From Mirabai Chanu winning a silver medal in the women’s 49 kg category to PV Sindhu winning a bronze, sportspersons have made the country proud this year at the Olympics.
By Reya Mehrotra
From Mirabai Chanu winning a silver medal in the women’s 49 kg category to PV Sindhu winning a bronze, sportspersons have made the country proud this year at the Olympics. Here, we bring you the first Indian sportspersons to create history in their respective sport categories.
The Indian field hockey player was known as the greatest in the history of the sport. He was the star of the Indian hockey team that dominated in the years before World War II. He got India three consecutive gold medals at the Olympics in 1928, 1932 and 1936. Because of his control and mastery over the game, he earned the titles ‘Hockey Wizard’ and ‘The Magician’.
The badminton player from Hyderabad, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu has made the country proud on multiple occasions. The first Indian to become a Badminton World Champion and the second individual athlete from India to win two consecutive medals at Olympic Games, Sindhu held a world ranking of number two in April. She represented India in the 2016 Olympics in Rio and became the first Indian badminton player to reach a final. In the 2020 Summer Olympics at Tokyo, she won bronze, becoming the only Indian woman to win two Olympic medals.
Indian weightlifter Karnam Malleswari from Andhra Pradesh was the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Olympics. In the Sydney 2000 Olympics, she won a bronze for lifting 110 kg and 130 kg in the ‘snatch’ and ‘clean jerk’ categories. She was also named ‘The Iron Lady’ after her win. She has been honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and the civilian Padma Shri Award.
British-Indian athlete and actor Norman Pritchard was the first Asia-born athlete to win an Olympic medal, representing India at the 1900 Paris Olympics. According to Olympic historians, he was chosen to represent Great Britain. However, according to the IOC, he represented India and the Committee credits his two silver medals to India. He was born in British-occupied India in Calcutta. Between 1990 and 1902, he served as the secretary of the Indian Football Association.
Indian weightlifter Mirabai Chanu, who hails from Manipur, won a silver medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics at Tokyo. Previously, she won at the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships. For her contribution to sports, she has been awarded the Padma Shri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award. This year, she was not only the only Indian woman weightlifter to qualify for the Olympics, but also the first Indian weightlifter to win silver at the Olympics and the second Indian weightlifter to win an Olympic medal.
Indian wrestler Sushil Kumar held the distinction of being the country’s only two-time Olympic medallist in an individual event till the Olympics this year. He became the first Indian to win a wrestling world championship. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he won bronze in the 66 kg category. Later at the London 2012 Olympics, he won a silver medal. However, his name was tainted recently when he was arrested in connection with a murder case of another wrestler and has been in jail since.
Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav
The Indian wrestler, also known as KD Jadhav, won a bronze at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki and with it became the first athlete of independent India to win at the Olympics. After Norman Pritchard (who won during the British Raj), he was the first Indian to win. Before him, India had won in field hockey. Born in Maharashtra to a wrestler named Dadasaheb Jadhav, who trained him, he was also a part of the Quit India Movement and came from a family of wrestlers.
Women’s hockey team
The Indian women’s hockey team, comprising Rani Rampal, Neha Goyal, Nikki Pradhan, Sushila Chanu, Savita Punia, Navjot Kaur, Sharmila Devi and others, created history at the 2020 Summer Olympics at Tokyo. On the 10th day of the Olympics, for the first time, the team qualified for the semi-finals, beating three-time champion Australia. The women’s team had qualified in 1980 for Olympics for the first time.
Retired sport shooter and businessman Abhinav Bindra, who hails from Dehradun, is India’s only Olympic gold medallist. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, he secured a gold medal in the 10 m air rifle event.