Indian javelin
thrower Neeraj Chopra’s gold at the Tokyo Olympics is a momentous occasion for sports
in India. Chopra’s win is a moment of culmination for a sports fraternity that
has seen legends of particular disciplines represent the country but the
Olympic medal eluding them Games after Games.

Therefore, on this
historic occasion, it becomes imperative that we take a trip down memory lane
and see the history that has led us to this moment.

Olympic beginnings

The first modern
Olympics were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece. Four years later, India, then a
colonial state under British rule, participated in the first Olympic Games in
the year 1900 in Paris, France.

India was
represented by only one athlete at the event — the lone Norman Pritchard.
Pritchard won two medals, one in men’s 200m and another in men’s 200m hurdles.

Also Read: 100 years, 3 stories, 1 dream: Neeraj Chopra’s win is more than just a gold

Since 1900, India
has participated in every single Olympic tournament. The first time India sent
an Olympic team was in 1920. The team had comprised two wrestlers and four

However, it took
India 28 years since its first Olympic medals to add to the tally. In 1928, the
Indian hockey team won gold.

Golden age of
Indian hockey

The gold medal in
1928 ushered in an era of India’s unchallenged dominance in the world of
hockey. The Indian hockey team won three titles between 1928 and 1936. In the
1932 Summer Olympics, India defeated USA 24–1, scoring the largest margin of victory
in history.

India’s hockey
dominance continued post-independence, with the team winning their sixth
straight title in in the 1956 Summer Olympics. However, the days of glory ended
in 1960, when the Indian hockey team had to settle for silver. Although gold
returned to Indian hockey in 1964, it was never the same again.

Legends of
individual sport

Khashaba Dadasaheb
Jadhav (KD Jadhav) was the first Indian to win an Olympic medal in an
individual sport. Jadhav won bronze in the 1952 Olympics held in Helsinki.
Jadhav was followed by Leander Paes, Karnam Malleswari — the first-ever Indian
woman to win an Olympic medal and Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and several others.

Abhinav Bindra was
the first Indian to win a gold medal in an individual sport. Neeraj Chopra’s
accomplishment on Saturday puts him in the company of this extremely elite club
and is certainly a shot in the arm for Indian athletics.