The Rio Olympics 2016 kicked off last night with 206 countries marching down the main athletics stadium, fluttering their flags high, carrying millions of hopes on their shoulders. The Indian contingent, led by Abhinav Bindra, is the largest Indian contingent till date with 118 participants across 66 events and 15 sports.
The previous Olympics in London was India’s most successful outing with 6 medals being won, however this time hopes are high to better that record. Overall, India hasn’t had the most illustrious Olympic journey, but there are some moments that really stand out, which are worth a mention.
We scouted the history books and come across these 5 Amazing Facts About India’s Olympic History:
1. India’s first medalist went on to become an actor in LA
In the Olympics of 1900, India had only one athlete participate in the competition by the name of Norman Pritchard. He went on to win 2 silver medals, one in the 200 metre dash and the other in the 200 metre hurdles.
He eventually moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a silent film actor under the screen name of Norman Trevor.
2. An Indian won a Silver Medal for Great Britain
Did you know that the Olympics up until 1948 had art as a part of their competition? Chintamoni Kar, a famous artist from West Bengal, was studying sculpture in Great Britain between 1946-56 and was a part of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. During this time he participated in the Olympics and won a silver for his work Skating The Stag, however to his displeasure, post 1948, the International Olympic Committee disregarded all medals won in the art competitions.
3. Indian Hockey goalkeeper conceded a goal while signing autographs
In the 1930s, the Indian Hockey team was a force to reckon with and was unstoppable! In one of their matches against the USA, the goalkeeper got carried away and walked off behind the goal post to sign autographs for the waiting fans. The opponents chanced upon this opportunity to score an easy goal. There was no need to worry for the Indians because they were already leading by 24 goals! This win margin of 24-1 is also the highest ever in an Olympics pool match.
4. Karnam Malleswari is the first Indian woman to win a medal
She won a bronze in weight lifting in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and was the first Indian woman at that time to do so. Post that, Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal are the only 2 other women who have an Olympics medal to their name.
5. The Indian Hockey team won 6 consecutive Olympics Gold Medals
Between 1928 and 1956, the Indian Hockey team won 6 consecutive Gold medals while winning 24 consecutive matches. During this time, India scored 178 goals and conceded only 7. In total India has won 11 medals in Hockey which include 8 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze.
We wish team India all the best for Rio 2016! Leave your wishes for them in the comments below.