We’d be lying if we said that we are not emotional. This 17 day period was something truly extraordinary and all of us shall remember them till our athletes create more memories for us. Finishing 48th on the medal tally in Tokyo,the highest ever ranking in over four decades. India has significantly made a mark and here is a list of all the medal winners at the event.
Neeraj Chopra became the first track and field athlete to bag a gold medal for India at the Olympics, whereas the nation’s almost 4 decades-long Olympic hockey desiccation was brought to an end by the men’s hockey team.
At the end of the Tokyo Olympics, India stood at 48th position, with an aggregate of 7 medals- 1 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze.
Neeraj Chopra- Gold medal (Men’s Javelin Throw)
Neeraj Chopra, who also happens to be a junior commissioned officer in the armed forces, secured the first-ever gold medal in an individual athletic event with a javelin throw of 85.58 meters at the Tokyo Olympics. He is a native of Panipat in Haryana. As a child, Neeraj was overweight and was encouraged by his father to go to the stadium for runs. There he tried javelin throw and found himself quite good at it. Due to the lack of facilities in his hometown, he left home at the early age of 14 and moved to Panchkula. There, he started his training at the Sports Authority of India and eventually continued his training at the Tau Devi Lal stadium. Jaiveer Choudhary, Neeraj’s senior was the first person to identify his talent and helped him in his training.
He also has the Under-20 Javelin Throw world record of 86.48m in his name. His other accomplishments include gold medals at Asian Games and Commonwealth Games 2018, gold at Asian athletic championships 2017 and gold at South Asian Games 2016. Neeraj Chopra’s personal best stands at 88.06m which is the Indian national record made at Asian Games 2018. In 2018, at the 68th All India International Services Athletics, Neeraj suffered a major injury in his right elbow and underwent surgery for the same. This injury didn’t become a hurdle in his journey, and he was back to his ‘old’ performance level by the end of 2019, as said by his coach Klaus Bartonietz. He also said that the young champion has quite a lot of fans in Germany.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu- Silver medal (Women’s Weightlifting 49kg)
Every athlete is a symbol of hope and ambition, where some of them have emerged out of struggles and stringent circumstances to reach where they are today. Mirabai Chanu, who won the silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in Women’s Weightlifting, is one such example. Living on the bare minimum since she was born, she and her siblings had to walk miles in search of firewood to cook food. A 12-year-old girl, lifting heavy firewood by herself surprised everyone in her family and was encouraged to take up weightlifting by the people around her. She was intrigued by the idea and went on by reading about weightlifter Kunjrani Devi. Like herself, Kunjrani Devi also belonged to Manipur. In the due course of time, she decided that she wanted to be like her. Mirabai qualified for the only weightlifting centre which was 22kms away from her. Her mother was her biggest supporter and made her believe that she could achieve anything in her life. She even won gold at Commonwealth Games and was prepared to secure a medal at the Rio Olympics. She couldn’t perform her best when the day came and eventually considered quitting the sport. But, her mother came to her rescue and persuaded her to work harder, after which she became the second Indian to bag a gold medal at the World Championships. Soon after that, she suffered a lower back injury and was sidelined from her sport for almost 8 months. She, escorted by her coach, went abroad for her treatment. She made her comeback by breaking the world record at the Asian Championships and silver at the Tokyo Olympics. She believes that with her strong willpower she can achieve anything.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya- Silver medal (Men’s Wrestling- 57 kg Freestyle)
Ravi Kumar Dahiya, who has been practising wrestling since the age of 10, won a silver medal at Tokyo Olympics in Freestyle Wrestling. Born in the Nahri village of Sonepat in Haryana, Ravi Kumar Dahiya comes from an agrarian family. With financial problems always hovering, he had to help his mother and father to bring in some money for survival. However, his father worked hard in helping his son realize his dreams to pursue professional wrestling. He joined the infamous Chhatrasal Academy for training. His bagged his first international medal at the Junior World Championships 2015. When the time came to compete in the semifinals of the Senior Nationals, he suffered a severe knee injury. He returned to the sport with a rumble of thunder and won a silver medal at the Under-23 World Wrestling Championship. In 2019, he had the world ranking number 5 in his name. He was one of the 8 wrestlers who represented India at the Tokyo Olympics. Ravi Kumar Dahiya became the second Indian to win Olympic silver in wrestling after Sushil Kumar and fulfilled his childhood dream.
Lovlina Borgohain- Bronze medal (Boxing: Women’s Welterweight)
Lovlina Borgohain, the third ever Indian boxer, to win an Olympic medal. Born in Assam, to a small scale businessman, Lovlina already had the environment for sports in her family. Inspired by her elder sisters, she took up kickboxing. With time her boxing talent was recognized by coach Padum Boro during a trial held at her school. She grabbed the opportunity without any hesitation and started her training at Boxing Academy in 2012. Soon she progressed and reached the international stage and was soon shifted under the guidance of India’s chief women’s coach Shiv Singh. Soon after, she won a bronze medal at the Asian Boxing Championship 2017 and silver at Ulaanbaatar Cup 2018. In March 2020, she won the Asia Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in the 69kg category. At the young age of 23, Lovlina became the first female boxer from Assam to represent the nation at Olympics.
PV Sindhu- Bronze medal (Badminton- Women’s singles)
The star badminton player of the 21st century, Pusarla Venkata Sindhu won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics and is also known as the first Indian badminton player (woman) to win a silver medal at Olympics. PV Sindhu was born in Hyderabad, in a family where both the parents were national Volleyball players. As a result of this, a sporting spirit ran in her blood. Pullela Gopichand was an inspiration for her, which made her pursue her career in badminton. She trained at the All England Open Badminton Champion’s Academy by travelling almost 56 km every day to reach there. She kept working hard to fulfil her dreams and played quite well at the 5th Servo All-India ranking championship. She made her debut appearance at the Commonwealth Games 2014 and secured a bronze medal, and finally made the whole nation proud of her by bagging a silver medal at the Rio Olympics 2016.
As a small girl, Sindhu only started the sport as a pastime and ended up being ranked number 2 by the Badminton World Federation, only through sheer hard work under the aegis of Pullela Gopichand himself.
Bajrang Punia- Bronze medal (Men’s Wrestling Freestyle:65 kgs)
The only Indian wrestler to have won three medals at the World Wrestling Championship, Bajrang Punia bagged a bronze medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Since the tender age of 7, he has been into the sport and had the complete support of his father, who was also a wrestler. He belongs to the Jhajjar district of Haryana butt moved to Sonepat with his family in 2015 for his further training in the sport after his prominent wins in 2the 013 Asian Wrestling Championships and World Championships. In his school days, he used to bunk classes to go to an ‘akhaada’ with his friends. Soon in his teenage, he met the Olympic medalist Yogeshwar Dutt, who has been his mentor and friend ever since. Coming from a household with a relatively low income, Bajrang never had the chance to pursue sports that required expensive equipment like cricket and the like. In 2015, he met with a back injury which resulted in a break of almost 9 months in his training, but he eventually bounced back. 2018 proved to be a year of achievements for him, as he won golds at the Commonwealth as well as the Asian Games. Furthermore, in 2019, he was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award which is the highest sporting honour of the nation. His father always dreamt of his son becoming a wrestler, which Bajrang made it a point to fulfil
Men’s Hockey Team- Bronze medal
India bagged the last medal in field hockey in 1the 980 Moscow Olympics and we have longed for a medal since then. But, the Men’s field hockey team fulfilled this longing in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The squad consisted of – PR Sreejesh (Goalkeeper), Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surendra Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Birendra Lakra (Defenders), Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Nilakant Sharma, Sumit (Midfielders), Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Gurjant Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Mandeep Singh (Forwards), Krishna Pathak, Varun Kumar, Simranjit Singh (Stand-bys). The Indian team defeated the world number 6th- Germany with a score of 5-4 to bring the bronze medal home. 8 of the players from the squad came from the Surjit Hockey Academy in Jalandhar. Olympian Pargat Singh played an instrumental role in the revival of hockey who was the director of sports in Punjab in 2005. The final match was a strong comeback made by the team and turned the match in their favour to secure the medal.
So that’s our athletes with their super inspiring stories. Our athletes have made us extremely proud and we are eternally grateful. We hope India keeps shining at the Olympics.