From Bharat ( India) ‘s ancient days to modern India, sports have played a key role in the development of many Indian communities. Sports has been a critical binding tool for Indian society. It has been the reason to bring people together, build in them a sense of belonging and togetherness, restore faith in the effort of the collective ness and give them something to look forward to.
The Indian sports community, for decades, have been building a brotherhood and fraternity that has also helped the country win various medals and prizes at some of the most prominent global events. Weather the win was as a team or individuals backed by a group of stars, these wins have brought India some glorious moments and here a look into some of those:
First Olympic Win
It is known that India won its first Olympic medal in 1900. Athlete Norman Pritchard won two silver medals in athletics and became the first member from an Asian nation to win at the Olympics. India is then known to have been an active participant in Summer Olympic Games since 1920 and also has won several medals.
Indian Hockey team’s dominant Era
From around the late 1920s to 1980’s, the Indian men’s Hockey team has been known to dominate the sport. Winning close to 11 medals and building an impressive record for the world. The 1950s to 1960s were also known to be India’s glory and golden years of hockey. Players like Dhyan Chand were offered citizenship to Germany by Hilter and a position in his army which Dhyan Chand later declined, to Captain Digvijay Singh awarded the title of ‘Best athlete of Asia’ and ‘Best hockey player in the world’, Indian hockey team’s accomplishments were a true sense of national pride. The Indian Men’s Hockey team went on to win the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur in 1975.
In 2002, the Indian Women’s Hockey team won Gold in the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester, England.
Golden years of the Indian Football Team – 1950’s to 60’s
The 1950s and 1960s were the peaks of Indian football and the golden years when the Indian Football team ranked among the 20 top teams worldwide. Winning the 1951 and 1962 Asian Games, the Indian football team filled the country with moments of pride and admiration. During this period of high achievements and wins, the Indian Football team advanced to play in the FIFA world cup 1950; unfortunately, they could not participate due to financial limitations, internal issues and a lack of resources.
Khashaba Jadhav’s Bronze at the 1952 Olympic
Jadhav was born into a family of wrestlers and won a bronze medal at the 1952 summer Olympics, becoming the first Indian to win on this platform individually. He defeated players from Canada, Mexico and Germany to win the title. He was winning himself the nation’s love and a ton of media attention.
Milkha Singh Gold medal win at 440 yards in 1958 Commonwealth Games
One of the first of his kind, coined as the Flying Sikh by Pakistan’s General Ayub Khan, Milkha Singh was a true sensation who has inspired a million more. He was the first Indian to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal. Milkha was known to constantly set new records and become a pride for his nation, an icon people admired. A movie on his career and life was also made by the Indian film industry, which was also widely celebrated and watched.
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Prakash Padukone wins All England Badminton, 1980
One of the brightest stars of Badminton is the name we all know so well, Mr Prakash Padukone. He was the first Indian to win the All-England Badminton championship after defeating the Indonesian player Liem Swie King. An icon to reckon with who not only made his country proud but is one of the finest badminton players that has inspired millions across India to take sports like Badminton as a serious profession. He was awarded the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri for his outstanding performance and achievements. He is also known to have won the national championship for an exceptional record nine times.
Indian Golf Teams and Jeev Milkha Singh winning laurels for India in Golf, 1982
Golf is not as widely celebrated as Hockey and Cricket are in India. However, there have been certain players who have made sure to bring light to the sport. The Indian golf team rose to glory in 1982 by winning gold. The gold team was represented by Rajiv Mohta, Rishi Narain, Amit Luthra and ‘Bunny’ Laxman Singh.
Jeev Milkha Singh made a significant contribution to the sport by becoming the first Indian player to join the European Tour in 1998. He has won many titles since, including three European Tour titles, four Japan Golf Tour titles and size Asian Tour titles.
Iconic Cricket World cup win, 1983
With a low score to defend, the Indian cricket team at the Oval ground went with all their guts to put their best and win the title lead by captain Kapil Dev. To bowl tight and restrict the scoring with fielding better than ever, the whole team effort led to India coming closer to the world cup win. Indian bowler Binny still holds the world record of 18 wickets, followed by Madan Lal with 17 wickets. Kapil Dev, the Indian team captain, led the batting averages.
This game was nothing short of a nail-biting finale which saw one of the strongest and best bowling attacks by any team during an ICC Cricket World Cup. In his own words, Kapil Dev said to his team after the Indian team put together a total score of 183 runs, ‘Team, if this is not a winning total, it is definitely a fighting total’. Winning the world cup by 43 runs has been one of the loudest moments of India’s pride that shone across the globe.
They say history repeats itself, and in 2011 it indeed did. Defeating Sri Lanka on Indian soil, India became the first to win the ICC Cricket World Cup on its home ground. Second world cup win and a much-awaited one rather, the nation rejoiced over days, and all players saw a warm welcome back to their hometowns with media attention focused on the team players. Both these wins have marked a well-recorded emotional and proud moment for a cricket frenzy Indian nation.
P.T. Usha’s winning run at Asian Games, 1986
P.T. Usha became a true sensation for the country and is known globally after winning four gold medals and one silver medal in track and field events at the 1986 Asian Games. This undoubtedly led her to receive the trophy for the Best Athlete in the world. A female representing India and winning at such a global level, she is still a source of inspiration and one of the most substantial contributors to adding more female power to Indian sports.
Paes and Bhupathi winning streak in Tennis, 1999
Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati are one impeccable duo when it comes to tennis, and they went on to become a household name in India as leading Tennis players representing the country. This duo created history whenever they played together and were a force to reckon with. Unbeatable and unmatched, these two went on to win men’s doubles in all four grand slams and ATP master in 1999 while also winning the French Open and Wimbledon.
Karnam Malleswari’s bronze in weightlifting, Olympics 2000
Karnam Malleswari is an Indian weightlifter who was one of the first Indian women to win an Olympic medal and stand on the victory stand in 2000. She made history, inspiring a nation of over one billion. Winning the bronze in the 69 kg division in the Sydney Olympics, she made sure the allegations made on her form soon enough vanished.
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Viswanathan Anand – World Chess Champion, 2000
Coined as the ‘Lightning Kid’, Anand made history in 2000 with his remarkable victory in the FIDE World Chess Championship. The very first Indian to win a world chess championship. In a country obsessed with outdoor sports, he became a light source of inspiration for kids countrywide to become chess experts and venture into the world of playing mindful games that require incredible patience, skills and ability to comprehend each opponent’s move. Anand won the FIDE title yet again in 2007. Lubomir Kavalek, known to be a great chess player in the world, had once called Anand the most versatile player and champion. Anand has also won world championships five times.
Pullela Gopichand’s All England Badminton Championship, 2001
Pullela won the Yonex All England Open Championship title after about two decades of Prakash Padukone winning. This win upset many spectators, as noted by many experts, simply because no one was expecting the Indian champ to beat Chen Hong. However, the impeccable performance of Gopichand that day led him to victory. He received a Dronacharya Award in 2009 and a Padma Bhushan in 2014.
Anju Bobby Geroge’s jump to wins in 2003 and 2005
George created history with her record jump at the World Athletics Championship in 2003 in Paris and became the first Indian medalist to win bronze. She went on to win the gold medal at IAAF world athletics, which was considered her best performance. Her hard work, resilience and success brought her from a world rank 61 in 2001 to 6 in 2003. She holds the current Indian national record for the longest jump at 6.83 meters.
Anju is also a true source of inspiration for the young women of India. She has been awarded many honours by the Indian government over the years, including Arjuna Award in 2002, Khel Ratna in 2003 and Padma Shri in 2004.
The undefeated Indian Kabaddi Team world cup win
Kabaddi is an ancient Indian sport widespread across Indian villages and towns. The Indian Kabaddi team has been known to be the undefeated champions of the sport at all World Cup games held at the Asian Games since 1990. Winning all World Cup titles till 2014, taking the number to over five world cup wins. With the launch of Pro Kabbadi League in 2014, the sport has seen widespread development and innovation, making it a viable career option for its players. Kabaddi has come a long way from a sport played simply for leisure in the past days to the second most watched sport in India after Cricket. We have the relentless Indian Kabaddi team victories and hard work to credit.
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Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore shooting for Silver, 2004
Indian ace shooter Rathore bagged his country a silver medal at Athens Olympic Games in 2004, causing a stir nationwide. Giving the country its first silver medal in an individual event at the Olympics. From winning this medal to becoming a star sensation in the country, Rathore received much attention from the media and his newly formed fans. He has also won 25 international awards at various championships worldwide for Double Trap Shooting.
Pankaj Advani wins World Billiards Championship, 2005
Advani won the IBSF Billiards Championships in 2005 at Qawra, Malta and became the talk of the town in India. He was the first player to achieve a grand double by winning both time and point-scoring formats. He is also known to have won the World Championship in 2003, when he was only 18 years old, becoming one of the youngest Indians to win the title.
Geet Sethi is also known in the world of Snooker, representing India to have won six professional and three ( amateur) World Cup titles, along with two world records under his name.
Abhinav Bindra’s Gold at Olympics, 2008
Winning the gold medal in the men’s 10m air rifle shooting competition in Beijing Olympics 2008, Abhinav became an overnight sensation. He is also the first Indian to win Gold at Olympics for India at an individual game. He has also won seven medals at the Commonwealth Games and three medals at the Asian games. Holding a record of more than 150 medals in his career lasting over two decades, he is also the recipient of Padma Bhusan.
Saina Nehwal wins Super Series Tournament, 2009
One of the very few women who have brought badminton into the limelight, Saina is the first Indian ever to win a Super Series Tournament. She won the title by defeating a higher-ranked player than herself, Lin Wang, from China. Nehwal also won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics. Nehwal is also the first Indian to win two singles gold medals ( 2010 and 2018), in Commonwealth Games.
Considered India’s finest and most successful Badminton player, Nehwal is known to spread the sport of Badminton across the country. She has been awarded the Padma Bhusan, Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna and Arjuna Award.
Mary Kom’s comeback with gold, 2014
Winning the gold at the Asian games in women’s 48-51kg boxing, Mary Kom became a sensation in India. She is known to be fierce in her game and humble at heart. This victory was more remarkable since she had returned to the ring after two years of break, after delivering her third baby. Kom is also the first Indian female boxer to win a gold medal and the first Indian female boxer to win gold at the Commonwealth games in 2018. Mary Kom was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2020, India’s second-highest civilian award.
The Indian Film Industry also went on to make an entire feature film on Mary Kom’s personal and professional journey; the movie was widely loved.
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PV Sindhu – Badminton’s World Champion
Sindhu is known to have won many bronze medals over the years, from 2013 to 2014 and silver in 2017 and 2018. She finally became the world number one after defeating Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara to win the BWF World Championship in 2019 in Basel, Switzerland. She became the first Indian to win the world championship.
Saurabh Chaudhary’s gold win at Asian Games, 2018
Chaudhary is known for winning the men’s 10m Air Pistol event at the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta. He also went on to win the ISSF Junior World Cup in 2018 and set a new record in the 10m pistol category. Known as the youngest Indian gold medalist, he is also the only Indian shooter to win a gold medal in the ISSF world championship, ISSF World Cup, Asian Games, Youth Olympic Games, and Asian Air Gun Championship.
Neeraj Chopra’s Gold at Tokyo Olympics, 2021
Chopra made history by being the first Indian to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field at Tokyo Olympics. His javelin throw of 87.85 meters won him the yellow metal and is presently known as the world’s number 2 player. Neeraj has also participated in the 2019 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games, winning gold in both tournaments. In the world going through the pandemic, this gold win by Chopra brought a lot of smiles to the country. He became a sports sensation overnight, with major brands reaching him for ads and media seeking his attention for interviews.
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A significant number of people in our widespread country have brought in laurels for India by winning titles and medals. All these wins have been golden moments for the government and its citizens. Each success filled up the country’s soul with pride. This article is an ode to these winners and the team behind these athletes who work with them day and night to make them successful. From their coaches, talent managers, PR managers, trainers and therapy experts – it takes a whole team to make sure the win comes back home. If sports excite you and you love the idea of managing talent while leading them to victory, Sports Management is just the course for you. At MBA-ESG India, we offer you an MBA in Sports Management that is meant to hone your professional skills, build character, and spark resilience and agility in your personality.