Independence Day 2021: Hockey’s Dominance at Olympics to 1983 Cricket World Cup Win to Neeraj Chopra’s Athletics Gold – India’s Greatest Sporting Moments Post-Independence
Independence Day 2021: Hockey’s Dominance at Olympics to 1983 Cricket World Cup Win to Neeraj Chopra’s
In the past century, India have witnessed many glorious sporting moments. At India.com, we've undertaken the difficult task of listing the top-5 greatest moments in Indian sporting history in the post-independence era.
From Abhinav Bindra’s first-ever individual Olympic gold to Kapil Dev’s devils beating the mighty West Indies in the 1983 World Cup final, Hockey’s Golden years (1928-80) to Neeraj Chopra’s Javelin gold medal at Tokyo 2020, we have picked five greatest sporting moments in Indian sporting history. On coming Sunday – August 15, 2021 – India will be celebrating their 75th year of Independence and the entire nation is gripped into a patriotic fervour. With this piece, we would like to add some more flavour to the occasion.
In the past century, India have witnessed many glorious sporting moments. At India.com, we decided to undertake the difficult task of listing the top-5 greatest moments in Indian sporting history. For a very long time, Indian sport has long suffered from short-term public memory and the overwhelming popularity of cricket. However, this list is India.com’s own unique way of reviving memories of the feats of days gone by, and of saluting the richness, variety and breadth of India’s sporting history. Whether you agree or disagree, we hope it brings these achievements and achievers back into the spotlight where they belong.
Hockey’s Dominance at Olympics Post-Independence
Following the turmoil that painful partition had brought upon the subcontinent, India somehow managed to put together a team for the 1948 London Olympics. After winning three hockey Olympic golds in the pre-Independence era (1928-36), Indian hockey team made the whole country proud once again as they went on to claim the coveted Gold medal at 1948 London Olympics. In the final, India defeated Great Britain 4-0 to bring back smiles onto the faces of families struggling to rebuild their lives following the partition. Led by Kishan Lal, the team included legends like Leslie Claudius, who would go onto compete in four more Olympics and Balbir Singh. Overall, India have won 8 Hockey Olympic golds and Hockey World Cup in 1975.
‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh Misses Olympics Medal by 0.1 Seconds
Widely regarded as independent India’s most iconic sporting hero, Milkha Singh was not just an athlete but a phenomenon. In his stellar athletics career, Milkha Ji ran many memorable races. But the Flying Sikh, as he is popularly known, is best remembered for his 400m race at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. He became the first Indian to reach the final of an Olympic event. Milkha was leading that race but his decision to slow down and glance at his opponents cost him an individual Olympic medal. He failed to finish on the podium in the photo finish after trailing by 0.1 seconds. Despite finishing fourth, Milkha Singh set a new national record that remained untouched for 38 years. Paramjeet Singh broke it in 1998.
1983 Cricket World Cup Win – Kapil’s Devils Defying Odds
Another historic moment in the post-independence era was when Kapil Dev-led Indian cricket team did the unthinkable by beating the mighty West Indies by 43 runs in the final of 1983 World Cup at the Lord’s Cricket Ground. It was India’s first-ever cricket World Cup title. The World Cup-winning team was led by India’s legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev. India’s World Cup final playing XI included Sunil Gavaskar, K Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath, Yashpal Sharma, SM Patil, Kapil Dev (c), Kirti Azad, Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Syed Kirmani, and Balwinder Sandhu. After the win, cricket got a fillip in the country, elevating the sport to religion for fans with every child wanting to become a cricketer.
Abhinav Bindra- India’s Golden Boy Breaks Jinx at Olympics
Abhinav Bindra scripted history in Beijing and gave Indian sports their biggest moment of joy as he became independent India’s first-ever individual Olympic gold medallist. Bindra had achieved the feat during the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the men’s 10-metre air rifle event. The shooter had shot a 10.8 on his last shot and this sealed the gold medal for the Indian. Before this shot, he was tied with Finland’s Henri Hakkinen and if he had shot anything less than 10.8, he would not have won the gold medal. Having started his Olympic journey in Sydney back in 2000, the 38-year-old shooter qualified in three Olympic finals including his golden journey of Beijing in 2008 (Athens being the other one) in his pet 10m air rifle, while he missed out in Sydney and London.
Bindra’s quest for a second Olympics medal ended in heartbreak as he missed a medal by a whisker in a tense shoot-off in the men’s 10m air rifle event at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Dehradun-born Bindra, who was playing in his fifth and final Olympics, was deprived of a fairytale ending to his glorious career as he was the fifth shooter to be eliminated in the race for the podium.
Neeraj Chopra: Man With Golden Arm Scripts History in Athletics
He came, he threw, he conquered – star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra became only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics, out-performing the field by some distance to immortalise himself as the first track-and-field Games medal-winner for the country. The 23-year-old son of a farmer from Khandra village near Panipat in Haryana produced a second-round throw of 87.58m in the finals to stun the athletics world and end India’s 100-year wait for a track and field medal in the Olympics. Brimming with confidence with hardly any nerves on display in his debut at the Games, the 23-year-old walked in like a rockstar to make the Tokyo Games India’s best-ever Olympic outing in what was the country’s final competitive outing at the ongoing edition.
Neeraj’s historic gold-winning feat in the Olympics was listed as one of the 10 magical moments of track and field in the Tokyo Games by World Athletics. Neeraj clinched the country’s maiden Olympic medal in athletics with a best throw of 87.58m to achieve the unthinkable.