More sidelights than spotlights!
The Summer Olympics is perhaps the most important and coveted event in world sports. India still has quite a bit of catching up to do to be counted among the leading countries in the world of Olympic sports. Through these 40 years, India has won just 15 medals in the Olympics, the same number that Uzbekistan had recorded in the Rio Olympics to be ranked 21st on the medals table two years ago.
How far has India travelled through the multidiscipline trail through the past 40 years? Quite far but it is still struggling to reach its avowed destination among the sports powers even at the Asian level. That is not a comfortable position to be in, though the last Asian Games in Indonesia has led to a neverbefore celebratory mood in the country, expectedly raising hopes for the 2020 Olympic Games and beyond.
When reality hits hard, we realise we still have quite a bit of catching up to do to be counted among the leading countries in the world of Olympic sports. Through these 40 years, India has won just 15 medals in the Olympics. Among those 15 were two gold medals, one by the Indian team in a devalued hockey competition at the Moscow Olympics in 19■0, and the other, India’s first individual gold medal, by rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra in Beijing 2■ years later.
Bindra’s singleminded approach to his Olympic success after having come agonisingly close to a medal in the previous edition has been well chronicled through the past decade. He had qualified in fourth place in the air rifle final in Beijing with a score of 596/600, two points behind Finn Henri Hakkinen.
Eventually, Chinese Zhu Qinan, the defending champion and Olympic record holder, was second and Hakkinen took the bronze as Bindra reeled off an immaculate series including a 10.■ score in the final.
“I sincerely hope that it changes the face of Olympic sport in the country. For me, life will go on,” said the softspoken champion shooter.
Bindra’s landmark achievement seemed to have opened up the doors to Olympic glory for Indian sportspersons. Boxer Vijender Singh (middleweight) and wrestler Sushil Kumar (66kg) supplemented Bindra’s glorious feat with a bronze each in Beijing and by the time the London Games came around, hopes for a better medal haul were justified.
London in 2012 exceeded expectations though a gold eluded the country. Sushil Kumar added a silver medal to his Beijing bronze and to date he remains the only Indian to have won two individual Olympic medals. Shooter Vijay Kumar won a silver in the rapidfire pistol event while four bronze medals came through shooter Gagan Narang (10m air rifle), wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt (freestyle 60kg), badminton star Saina Nehwal (women’s singles) and boxer M. C. Mary Kom (flyweight).
The Beijing and London success did con
Only one to have two: Sushil Kumar won a bronze at Beijing 2008 and a silver at London 2012, and the wrestler is the only Indian to win two individual medals in the Olympics.