India finished 48th on the medal tally in Tokyo, its highest ranking in over four decades (if one were to go by the total number of medals, India would have actually finished 33rd. However, ranking is done primarily based on gold medals won). The previous best in this period was the 51st rank finish at Beijing in 2008, when India won three medals, including Abhinav Bindra’s gold.
Here are India’s seven stars that helped in creating the most awaited history:
Neeraj Chopra (Gold in Javelin Throw)
Neeraj Chopra became India’s second individual Olympic champion — after Abhinav Bindra — with his men’s javelin throw gold at Tokyo 2020. He is also independent India’s first Olympian to win a medal in athletics/track and field. With his herculean effort, the country surpassed the previous best haul of six medals (without a gold) in the 2012 London Games.
Mirabai Chanu (Silver in 49 kg weightlifting)
Much was expected from Mirabai Chanu at Rio 2016. She flopped, failing to make a single clean and jerk lift. The pressure to deliver was crushing at Tokyo 2020. But coached by Vijay Sharma, the amiable 26-year-old from Manipur made light work of the heavy weights to clinch a silver with a smile in the 49kg category.
Ravi Kumar Dahiya (Silver in men’s 57kg freestyle wrestling)
RAvi, 23, became the second Indian debutant to win a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Competing in the men’s 57kg freestyle wrestling, Dahiya clinched silver and became the seventh Indian to win a silver medal at the Olympics in an individual event. The Sonipat-born grappler had to settle for the second spot after he lost 7-4 to two-time world champion Zavur Uguev (ROC).
PV Sindhu (Bronze in Badminton Women’s single)
PV Sindhu became the first Indian woman and only the second Indian athlete — after Sushil Kumar — to win two individual Olympic medals. The ace shuttler from Hyderabad beat China’s He Bing Jiao 21-13, 21-15 to win the bronze medal in the women’s singles competition.
Lovlina Borgohain (Bronze Women’s welterweight Boxing)
Competing in her maiden Olympics, Borgohain carved a niche for herself in the history of Indian women’s boxing by clinching a bronze — India’s lone boxing medal at the Tokyo Games. The 23-year-old, who was brought up in Baro Mukhia village of Assam’s Golaghat district, used to be a kickboxer, like her two elder sisters, before she turned to boxing.
Bajrang Punia (Bronze Men’s 65kg freestyle wrestling)
Wrestler Bajrang Punia, also in his debut appearance at the quadrennial event, beat Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov in the men’s 65kg freestyle wrestling playoff to claim the bronze medal. Punia, who belongs to Khuddan village in Jhajjar district, pinned Kazakhstan’s Daulet Niyazbekov.
The Indian men’s hockey team (Bronze)
Four decades of pain and disappointment was washed away as the Indian men’s hockey team clinched the bronze, the country’s 12th Olympic medal in the sport that came after a gap of 41 years. It wasn’t gold but it was enough to spearhead the revival of the sport in a country that attaches so much sentimental value to it.
After the initial hiccup which saw the team being steam-rolled 1-7 by Australia in their second game, Manpreet Singh and his men made a strong comeback only losing to eventual champions Belgium.