India has been competing in the Olympic games since the beginning of the 20th century. They first graced the event with only one athlete back in 1900 — the second Olympic Games since modern Olympic started. The country has not received a lot of medals since then, but they have constantly been competing in the games. India does not just participate in Summer Olympic Games, they also have delegates for the Winter Olympic Games in the year 1924, 1964-1968, 1988-1992 and 1998. In the latter part of this article, we will be able to know more about what really is India’s standing during the 20th century period of Olympic Games. But first, let us review the early years of India in the Olympic Games.
The lone athlete, Norman Pritchard, did not disappoint his country for winning two (2) silver medals during his country’s first ever participation on an Olympic game. However, after that Olympic year, they did not participate in any Olympic events for three (3) succeeding Olympic games. They got back on track when they sent a team during the Summer Olympic Games in 1920. During that time, the team was composed of two wrestlers, four athletes and as well as two managers. In the same year, the Indian Olympic movement was established.
In 1923, the formation of All-India Olympic was made. The following year, an All-India Olympic Games were held. This is to select a team that will represent their country for the Paris Olympics. At the Paris Olympics, India had seven tennis players, and seven additional athletes asking with their team manager.
A year before the Olympic Games in 1928, the original name of “Indian Olympic Committee” was changed to the “Indian Olympic Association”(IOA). This association’s task is to promote the sports development in their country; to choose which cities will host for the national games; and as well as send teams to the Olympics that are selected from the national games. In the same year of the Olympics, the national games were held, and seven athletes were chosen to represent India.
In the same year, an Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was also established. The federation was able to send a hockey team to the 1928 Olympics. In the following Olympic games, the national hockey team together with one swimmer was sent. The same team was again sent to the 1936 Olympics Games together with three wrestlers and also a one Burmese weight-lifter.
Olympic Games Delegation
As the years go by for the Olympic Games, the wider outreach of Indian Olympic Association calling the attention of many athletes seems effective. By 1948 and the Olympic years that follows, India has been sending a lot of delegations representing several kind of sports to the Olympics. These delegates are chosen by its sports federation. Here are the number of India’s delegations in every Olympic Games in 20th century:
- 1900 – Lone athlete
- 1920 – Two wrestlers and four athletes with two managers totaling to six competitors
- 1924 – Seven tennis players and seven athletes with a manager
- 1928 – A hockey team with 14 members and seven athletes
- 1932 – A hockey team with of 15 members, one swimmer and four athletes with three official together with a manager
- 1936 – A total of 27 competitors composing of three wrestlers, four athletes, a hockey team with of 19 members and one Burmese weight-lifter
- 1948 – There are 79 competitors during this Olympics with a few number of officials
- 1952 – A number of 64 competitors, lower than the previous Olympics, with some officials
India’s Standing in Olympics
Since 1920, India finds it hard to earn medals in the Olympic which makes India’s standing behind among other countries. However, they excel in the Field Hockey sport bagging Gold medals. Despite the large population of India, when it comes to Olympic games, they are only getting scarce medals. There are studies that presents how population by itself can be an indicator of a large talent pool. So, a lot have been wondering why. There has been assumptions as to why is it so, given that India and China have almost the same population. China being the most decorated country in almost all Olympic Games.
In an article by Sitirtho Patranobis of Hindustan Times, the Chinese state media were able to come up with the possible reasons that they believe are the behind the poor performance of India. It includes the poverty, lack of infrastructure, girls being not being able to join in most sports, boys are more into becoming engineers and as well as the lack of dissemination of information with regards to Olympics in some rural areas.
However, India does not stop from hoping that they could bag medals from the Olympic games and increase India’s standing. Every Olympic year, the number of their delegations increases.
As for the country’s ranking in the Olympic Games, here are the list of years of Olympic Games and the particular ranking of India:
- 1928 (Amsterdam) – 23rd
- 1932 (Los Angeles) – 19th
- 1936 (Berlin) – 20th
- 1948 (London) – 22nd
- 1952 (Helsinki) – 26th
- 1956 (Melbourne) – 24th
- 1960 (Rome) – 32nd
- 1964 (Tokyo) – 24th
- 1968 (Mexico City) – 42nd
- 1972 (Munich) – 43rd
- 1980 (Moscow) – 23rd
- 1996 (Atlanta) – 71st
India’s Medal Garnering Sports in Olympics
- Hockey – Gold medal in the year 1928, 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952, 1956, 1964, and 1980; and Silver medal in 1960. Garnering 9 medals. India’s standing is number 1 in the Field Hockey sport. It is also the national sport of India.
- Wrestling – Bronze medal in the year 1952. Ranking India as 43rd in the wrestling sport.
- Tennis – Bronze medal in 1996. India is 28th rank in the tennis sport.
- It has been mentioned how the lone athlete of India, Norman Pritchard, in the year 1900 Paris Olympics have won two silver medals in athletics. It has become a record that remained to have been unbroken for over 112 years. He became the first Indian athlete to have ever won an Olympic medal. After winning, he was able to act in silent films and had a screen name Norman Trevor.
- India did not participate in 4 Olympics including the first game.
- The Indian hockey team is atop in the Olympic Games with eight gold medals between 1928 and 1956 and a silver medal.
- Among the Hockey team members, Udham Singh, Leslie Claudius and Balbir Singh are the top athletes with 4 Olympic medals each.
- In the 1952 Olympics held in Helsinki, the Indian wrestler, Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, won the very first individual Olympic medal for India. This is the first medal that India was able to win as a free nation since it got its independence in 1947, causing the Indians to celebrate it more.
- India’s first and only Tennis Olympic medal is Leander Paes who won a bronze Olympic medal in the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta.
- Indian athlete, Chintamoni Kar, won an Olympic medal but for Great Britain in 1948.
- Richard Allen, an Indian goalkeeper left his goal post to sign autographs for his fans.
India’s standing may have not excelled in most events in the Olympics. However, it does not mean that India is not keen in sports. They actually are a fan of the cricket sport. In fact, it is their national sport. Most of them are focus in this game that young people do not have the courage to try other sports and have training. However, this sport is not among the Olympic Games.