This is the nation’s best-ever performance at the Olympic Games.
The Tokyo Olympics have been a historic campaign for the Indian contingent. Several Indian athletes brought back laurels for the country with their impressive performances at the quadrennial event as it proved to be the best Olympics campaign for India so far.
Having won a total of seven medals, India recorded its best-ever medal tally at Olympic Games. The nation eclipsed the previous mark of six medals, which was set at the London Olympics in 2012. In London, Sushil Kumar and Vijay Kumar claimed silver medals. On the other hand, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Yogeshwar Dutt and Gagan Narang won bronze medals.
In Tokyo 2020, a record number of Indian athletes qualified for the Olympic Games. It was hoped that this will be the best-ever Olympics campaign for India. The Indian athletes didn’t disappoint. Despite drawing a blank in shooting and archery, the majority of the other athletes lived up to their reputation. In addition, memorable performances were produced by the Indian women’s hockey team, Aditi Ashok, Fouaad Mirza, Bhavani Devi and the duo of Arjun Jat and Arvind Singh.
The Indians shone not only in traditional sports that they are good at, but also newer sports such as equestrian, golf, fencing and rowing. This is the most successful Olympics campaign for other reasons as well. The country claimed medals after a long drought in hockey and athletics.
Let’s take a look at all the Indian medalists from Tokyo 2020:
Neeraj Chopra – Javelin Throw
Indian sensation Neeraj Chopra etched his name forever into the history books of Indian sports, as he clinched the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He won the coveted medal in the men’s javelin throw. His victory means he has now registered India’s first-ever medal win in athletics at the Olympic Games. The 23-year-old also becomes only the second-ever Indian athlete to bag gold, after shooter Abhinav Bindra.
The javelin thrower started off brilliantly with an 87.03m throw, which propelled him straight to the top after the first attempt. The youngster from Panipat did not stop there, as he came up with an even better throw of 87.58m in his second attempt. That was enough to take the top spot, as none of the other throwers threatened to touch the mark set by Chopra. He will now come back home as the toast of an entire nation. What a magnificent achievement!
Mirabai Chanu – Weightlifting
Weightlifter Mirabai Chanu was expected to be one of the brightest sparks for India at the Tokyo Olympics. And she rightly delivered on the grandest stage! Chanu won the silver medal in the Women’s Weightlifting 49kg category at Tokyo 2020.
In doing so, she became the second Indian weightlifter to win an Olympic medal. China’s Hou Zhihui won the gold medal after setting an Olympic record in the ‘Snatch’ category. She finished with an overall 210kgs. Mirabai managed the best lift of 87kgs in the snatch category, before lifting an exceptional 115kgs – which set her personal record – in the ‘Clean & Jerk’ category to finish with an overall tally of 202kgs. The 26-year-old’s podium finish was the country’s first medal at the Tokyo Olympics and had set the wheels in motion.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya – Wrestling
Wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya became only the second Indian grappler to win an Olympic silver medal. Dahiya started his campaign with a 13-2 victory over Colombian Oscar Tigreros. This was followed by another emphatic 14-4 victory over Georgi Vangelov of Bulgaria. In the semi-final, Dahiya was 2-9 down against Kazakh wrestler Nurislav Sanayev. However, he produced a remarkable comeback and eventually won the match via pinfall.
Despite a defeat to Zavur Uguev of ROC in a closely fought final, the 23-year-old has a very bright future ahead of him. Dahiya has already set his sights on Paris 2024 and has promised to change the colour of his medal in three years’ time in the French capital.
Indian men’s hockey team
It was a historic campaign for the Indian men’s hockey team at the Tokyo Olympics. The Men in Blue began with a narrow win over New Zealand. After that, they suffered a heavy defeat to Australia in their second match. However, Graham Reid’s boys dusted themselves up to pick up commanding victories over Spain, Argentina and Japan to conclude the pool stage.
In the quarterfinals, the Indians beat Great Britain 3-1. However, a defeat to eventual champions Belgium followed in the semi-finals. The team was not heartbroken and played out a thrilling match against Germany for the bronze medal. The contest ended 5-4, with India on the right side of the scoreline. It was a significant victory in many ways, as Team India ended their 41-year drought for a medal at the Olympic Games in grand fashion.
P.V. Sindhu – Badminton
The Rio 2016 silver medalist began her Tokyo 2020 campaign with a dominant win over Israeli Ksenia Polikapova in her opening match. PV Sindhu then picked up another victory over Cheung Ngan Yi of Chinese Taipei to comfortably cruise through to the knockout rounds.
Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt was seen off in the Round of 16. Home favourite Akane Yamaguchi was put to the sword in the quarterfinals. However, Sindhu faced a crushing defeat against Chinese Taipei’s Tai-Tzu-ying in the semi-final clash. Despite this, the Indian shuttler showed great resolve to defeat China’s He Bingjiao to win the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. With the victory, she also became the first-ever Indian female athlete to win two Olympic medals.
Lovlina Borgohain – Boxing
Promising Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain made her Olympics debut in Tokyo. Having received a bye in the first round, Borgohain defeated experienced German Nadine Apetz 3-2 in her Round of 16 clash. Then, a victory over Chen Nien-chin of Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals assured India atleast a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
A loss to eventual gold medalist, Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli in the semi-finals brought her campaign to a halt. However, she won India’s third-ever Olympic medal in boxing, following in the footsteps of Vijender Singh and Mary Kom. The 23-year-old also became the first Assamese woman to compete at the Olympic Games. A memorable tournament indeed for a boxer whose best days still lie ahead.
Bajrang Punia – Wrestling
India’s Bajrang Punia won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The 27-year-old grappler defeated Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov 8-0 in the bronze medal match. The wrestler delivered a brilliant performance in the men’s freestyle 65kg category match-up, as he went on to win in a memorable fashion against his Kazakh counterpart.
Punia was a big medal hope for India and he delivered on the penultimate day of the Games. In doing so, Bajrang Punia became the sixth Indian wrestler to win a medal at the Olympic Games. He will be hungry to better his performance at Paris 2024.