India are among the 207 nations who will be participating in this grand carnival for seventeen days. Indians around the globe are hopeful for a much improved show from the contingent of 120 participants the largest ever sent by us.
As the Olympics is about to start we look back at 5 moments where Indians missed out on an Olympics medal by a whisker. [Full list of Indian athletes at Rio Olympics]
Randhir Shindes (Belgium, 1920)
This was the first time India as a team participated at the Olympics. They had sent a 8-member contingent to Belgium, Randhir Shindes being an integral part of the squad. Shindes participated in the Men’s Featherweight 60kg Freestyle Wrestling event. Shindes got a bye in the round of 16 and bulldozed past his opponents to reach the semi-final. He lost to USA’s Samuel Gerson in the last four and then conceded yet another defeat to Great Britain’s Philip Bernard.
This performance from Randhir Shindes will always remain special in our hearts as it was our debut in the grand stage.
Indian Men’s Football Team (Australia, 1956)
It is one of those very few notable successes which the Indian men’s football team have achieved. India qualified for Olympics in 1956 in football category. It was a dream run by Syed Rahim’s men led by Samar Banerjee. Five teams including Hungary who were India’s opponents in the first round withdrew from the tournament which meant India automatically qualfied for the quarter-final. In the last eight stage, India defeated Australia 4-2 courtesy a hat-trick from striker Neville D’Souza. The Maharashtra born forward was the first Asian to score a hat-trick in Olympics football. Unfortunately, India lost to a much stronger Yugoslavia 4-1 after a taking a lead in the game. Finally in the bronze medal match Bulgaria got better of India.
Milkha Singh (Rome, 1960)
Perhaps the most taleked about event in India at the Olympics is Milkha Singh’s heart-break at Rome in 1960. The star Indian Athlete successfully overcame all the hurles to qualify for the final race. He was expected to win a medal but unfortunately missed out on one as he finished fourth behind Malcolm Spence of South Africa. Milkha finished the race in 45.6 seconds which became a national record but it was not enough to win him a medal.
Indian Women’s Hockey Team (Moscow, 1980)
It was an historic occassion for the Indian Women’s Hockey side as they participated in the Olympics for the first time in history. It was alsoa golden opportunity for them to win a medal in their maiden attempt as the heavyweights of world hockey, Netherlands, West Germany, etc withdrew their names. The Indian eves started their campaign on a high with back to back wins against Poland and Austria. Unfortunately, they lost the plot with a defeat and draw against Czechoslovakia and eventual gold medalists Zimbabwe. In the last match the women in blue needed a draw to assure bronze but failed to do so conceding a 1-3 defeat to USSR.
P.T Usha (USA, 1984)
All eyes were on the 20-year-old PT Usha as she took the field at Los Angeles. The ‘Golden Girl’ of Indian Athletics showcased some impressive performances during the qualifying and had also clocked the third best timing. Usha was set to become the first Indian to win a medal for India in Athletics, but her dream shattered in the finals when she lost by one hundreth second and finished fourth behind Romania`s Cristina Cojecaru. (In picture, P.T Usha [right])