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The journey of India at the Olympics over the years

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The first Olympics were held in 1896 in Athens and India sent its first athlete to the Summer Olympics for the 1900 Games, but an Indian national team did not compete at the Summer Olympics until 1920. India then sent a team to the 1920 Olympics, two wrestlers, and managers Sohrab Bhoot and A. H. A. Fyzee. The Indian Olympic movement was then established during the 1920s

In 1923, a provisional All India Olympic Committee was formed, and in February 1924, the All-India Olympic Games (that later became the National Games of India) was held to select a team for the 1924 Summer Olympics. The Indian delegation at the Paris Olympics comprised seven athletes, seven tennis players and team manager Harry Buck.

In 1927, the provisional Indian Olympic Committee formally became the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). The main motive was to promote the development of sports in India, choose host cities for the national games, and send teams selected from the national games to the Summer Olympics. Thus, at the 1928 national games, it selected seven athletes to represent India at the next Summer Olympics, with Sondhi as manager. By this time, the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) had also been established and it sent a hockey team to the Summer Olympics. The national hockey team was similarly sent to the 1932 Games along with four athletes and one swimmer and 1936 Games with four athletes, three wrestlers, one weight-lifter, along with three officials headed by team manager Sondhi.

The Indian field hockey team dominated the Olympics from 1928 to 1936, winning an unprecedented three consecutive titles. In the 1928 Summer Olympics final, India defeated the Netherlands 3 – 0. It was a great achievement for the fact that it was the first gold medal won by any nation from Asia at the modern Olympic Games. In 1932 at the Summer Olympics, India defeated the United States 24 – 1, the largest margin of victory in Olympics history. In the 1936 Summer Olympics final they defeated Germany 8 – 1, the largest margin of victory ever in an Olympic final.

Recently, at the 2016 Summer Olympics, a record number of 118 athletes competed. Sakshi Malik became the first Indian woman wrestler to win an Olympic medal with her bronze medal in the Women’s freestyle 58 kg category. Shuttler P. V. Sindhu became the first Indian woman to win a silver medal in the Olympics and also the youngest Indian Olympic medalist.

In the 2020 Summer Olympics held in 2021, India was represented by a new record number of 124 athletes. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu secured a silver in the weightlifting women’s category of 49 kg on the opening day itself, this was the first time India won a medal on the opening day of any Olympics. Later, P.V. Sindhu defeated China’s He Bingjiao in the bronze medal match in straight games, thus becoming the first Indian woman to win two individual Olympic medals. 

Neeraj Chopra won the gold in the Javelin, becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal in track and field and the second Indian to win an individual gold in Men’s Field Hockey India won a bronze medal. This medal came after a gap of 41 years, the last medal having been previously won in Moscow 1980. In wrestling, Ravi Kumar Dahiya won a silver medal, and Bajrang Punia won a bronze medal. Olympic debutant Lovlina Borgohain took bronze in women’s boxing, and in the process became only the second woman to win an Olympic medal. The haul of 7 medals is the best performance for India in Olympics history, and is hopefully a stepping board to greater things.

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