The Olympic Games are considered the world’s foremost sports competition in which thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of competitions. Athletics has been a part of the Olympics Games since the start of the modern Olympic movement at the 1896 Summer Olympics Games.
Athletics in modern times, majorly includes track and field events, road running events and race-walking events. Athletics have the maximum contribution of about 15% to the medals in Olympics Games. Countries like United States, Jamaica, Kenya, Russia and Great Britain have led the tallies in recent times.
We are proud to live in a Country like India, where sports has a way of connecting people. However, in spite of being the second largest populated country in the world, India’s representation in the Olympic Games is really deplorable. Even in 2016, India had only 120 Indian sportspersons participating the Games which is considered to be the largest number so far in the history of India’s participation in the Olympic Games.
India hasn’t achieved much success in the international sporting arena, with the notable exception of cricket. India remains completely underdeveloped with many of the sports which are played at the Olympic Games. In the past 70 years, many Indian athletes have managed to reach to the finals of Olympic Games but have hardly not able to bag any medals for our country. Even India’s best athletes, like, P.T. Usha and Milkha Singh finished one place away from the podium.
Despite of all known reasons of the stagnant character of Indian track and field record, some Indian athletes have managed to carve their names in the history at very young age. These names have taken India
one more step closer to the Olympic Medals with increased hopes. Let’s take a look at these athletes who possess abilities to make India proud at Tokyo 2020.
1. Neeraj Chopra : Javelin Throw
Neeraj Chopra, born on 24th December 1997 in a small village Khandra in the Panipat district of Haryana, with no family background of sports whatsoever, has set a Junior World Record which is also an Indian National Record for Javelin Throw with 86.48m mark. In the year 2016, he secured 8th position, at the age of 18. While there were no records in the name of any Indian player, he became 1st Indian to hold an Athletic World Record. Undoubtedly, he will be India’s best hope at first ever Olympic track and field medal.
2. Tejaswin Shankar : High Jump
17-year old, from Delhi, Tejaswin Shankar, broke the Indian National Record by amazing 2.26m jump. After his performance in July 2016, he succeeded to rank 4 in the IAAF’s World Youth rankings and to rank 1 in IAAF’s Asia Youth rankings in High Jump. He also bagged gold medal by winning the triple jump event at the 32nd Junior Athletic Championship in Coimbatore. Setting up a national record at very early age, he proved his talent and potential of winning medals at international level.
3. Dutee Chand : 100m run
The Fastest Indian woman of all time, Dutee was born in 1996 in Gopalpur, Odisha. In the 2016 Federation Cup National Athletics Championship in New Delhi, she clocked 11.33 seconds in women’s 100m to win the gold and set new national record by breaking Rachita Mistry’s 16-year-old earlier national record of 11.38 seconds. On 25th June 2016 at the International Meeting at Almaty, Kazakhstan, Dutee broke her National record by clocking 11.24 seconds and qualified for the Olympic Games.
4. Beant Singh : 800m Run
Beant Singh, 1999 born, from Delhi, has already set Youth national record and won Gold medal in Asian Youth Athletics in 2015. He was also leading the list of the fastest times in the world in year 2015 in the youth category. He might become India’s another ‘Flying Sikh’ with his extraordinary potential. There is a long way to go, for him to cover in order to win a medal at Olympics. 800m event is a challenge to pick due to dominance of African Athletes over many years.
5. Lalita Babar : 3000m Steeplechase
Lalita, aged 27, born in 1989 in Mohi, Satara district of Maharashtra in a farmer family, after participating in multiple disciplines, she focused on 3000 meters steeplechase in January 2014. In the time span of 2 years she kept on improving her timing. In Rio Olympics she entered into the finals with a time of 9:19.76 min in her Heat, which is India’s current national record. She became the first Indian in 32 years, after P. T. Usha, to enter the finals in any track event in Olympics. At finals, she finished 10th with a time of 9:22.74. Looking at her current form she is one of our best contenders in track and field events.
India has always been a land of immense talent and it’s only getting better with time. From 2014, Indian athletes have set new national records in 38 events out of 70 events. In 2015, Asian Youth Athletics Championships, Doha, runners Beant Singh and Kisan Narshi Tadvi won a gold each in boys’ 800m and 3000m race as India secured 5th position with 2 Gold and total 14 medals (second highest after China’s 32). While in 2016 Rio Olympics, doubling the tally, 34 Indian athletes crossed the Olympics mark for 19 different events.
India’s performance in athletics at international level has started to show some spark in last few years, as upcoming athletes are surely getting better facilities and exposure. We may still have a long road to go before India is amongst the front runners in the medals tally at world sporting & athletic events but we’re on the right track to making it happen. Even though it is not possible to create world-class athletes in short time span, with more and more support towards young athletes and many initiatives there is an air of positivity that is fueling the desire to win amongst the young athletes. Now all that India needs is passionate followers to support and motivate the athletes throughout their hard fought journey.