India’s gold medals at the Olympics - From hockey’s dominance to Neeraj Chopra’s monster throw
Winning the gold at the Olympics is the pinnacle of success for any athlete or team and javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is the latest Indian to succeed at this level.
In all, India have 10 gold medals at the Olympics – winning eight times as a team. Only two individuals have won gold at the Summer Games in shooting and athletics. Here’s when and how India won the top honours at the Olympics.
Indian men’s hockey team - Amsterdam 1928
The Indian men’s hockey team was unbeatable from the late 1920s to the 1950s, stamping its authority as the world’s best side. Its reign at the top began with the Olympic gold in 1928.
India scored 29 goals – 14 by the hockey wizard Dhyan Chand alone - and conceded none to pick their first gold medal at the Games.
Indian men’s hockey team - Los Angeles 1932
With the world struggling from the Great Depression, only three teams could participate at the LA Games. India still reigned supreme against the USA and Japan to pick up their second gold at the quadrennial event.
The Indian men’s hockey team beat Japan 11-1 and the USA 24-1.
Indian men’s hockey team - Berlin 1936
Under the leadership of Dhyan Chand, India completed a hat-trick of gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. The team defeated hosts Germany 8-1 in the final, with Dhyan Chand scoring four in the gold-medal clash.
Indian men’s hockey team - London 1948
The hockey team continued its domination even after gaining freedom, winning gold at its first Olympic appearance as independent India at London 1948. India, led by Kishan Lal, scored 25 goals in five matches and outclassed hosts Great Britain 4-0 in the final at the Wembley Stadium.
Indian men’s hockey team - Helsinki 1952
Captain KD Singh Baba and his deputy Balbir Singh Sr led India to their fifth straight gold in hockey but had to overcome the chilly weather and the 24x7 sunlight in Finland. The team struggled in the first match in alien conditions but shone when it mattered.
India defeated Great Britain in the semi-final and the Netherlands in the final. Balbir Singh Sr scored nine goals in three matches.
Indian men’s hockey team - Melbourne 1956
India were not only unbeaten on their way to a sixth consecutive gold medal but also managed to keep a clean sheet in the entire tournament at Melbourne 1956.
India defeated Singapore (6-0), Afghanistan (14-0) and the USA (16-0) in the group stage before ousting Germany (1-0) in the semis and Pakistan (1-0) in the gold-medal contest.
Indian men’s hockey team - Tokyo 1964
Indian hockey’s streak at the Olympics was broken by Pakistan in 1960 but they got back to the top in 1964. The team faced stiff competition from Germany and Spain during the group stage matches, drawing twice and winning four times to advance to the knockouts.
India reached the final where they faced Pakistan for the third consecutive time and beat the neighbours 1-0 to pocket their seventh Olympic gold medal.
Indian men’s hockey team - Moscow 1980
After two bronze medals and a disappointing seventh-place finish in the preceding Olympics in Montreal, India returned with a gold in 1980. In a depleted field, India won three games and drew two in the preliminary rounds to progress to the final.
Indian overcame Spain 4-3 in a thrilling title decider in Moscow to clinch the eighth gold medal.
Abhinav Bindra in men’s 10m air rifle shooting - Beijing 2008
India made big strides in individual sports in the 21st century and won medals in weightlifting and shooting in 2000 and 2004 but neither were gold. However, Abhinav Bindra made history at Beijing 2008 by becoming the first Indian to win an individual gold medal. Bindra shot a near-perfect 10.8 in his final shot to be crowned the Olympic champion.
Neeraj Chopra in men’s javelin throw - Tokyo 2020
Neeraj Chopra scripted history by winning the first gold medal for an Indian in track-and-field events. He qualified for the final in the top spot and maintained his lead throughout the tournament. His attempt of 87.58m was enough to get him the javelin gold and take India’s haul at Tokyo 2020 to seven medals – their highest ever at a Games.