India is slowly emerging as a power to reckon with in sports. It has been slow but the results are bucketing at the moment with a prime example being the collection of 17 medals by the Indian shooters at the ongoing Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Glasgow.
We need proper coaches, infrastructure, a good regime and schedule to develop the players among various sports in our country but at the same time we also need people who can inspire our athletes to compete at the highest level. We can see that our country is slowly reaping rich success in various sports. Games like Shooting, wrestling, weightlifting, boxing and badminton are the ones where we are able to deliver success through a proper system of administration. Still there are many areas where we can hardly compete with powers like United States, China, Russia, Australia. One of those areas have been the track and field events. India still lack behind in terms of world class infrastructure and coaches with proper knowledge of the modern aspects of the game.
Never the less we still have been able to compete through the inspiration provided by some of the greats of the past.
Here are some of the greatest achievements by Indians at the commonwealth games over the years:
1) Rashid Anwar Bronze Medal at the Very First Edition CWG 1934 The Commonwealth Games was first staged in the year 1934 in Great Britain and at the time it used to be called British Empire Games. India participated in the games as one of the countries ruled by the Empire but did manage to give a good account of itself by way of the performance of wrestler Rashid Anwar, who bagged a bronze medal in wrestling. He was clubbed in the welterweight category, which means he had to be between 70.1 kg and 77.3 kg and although the exact details of his performances in the different bouts is unknown, he would forever be remembered as the one who made the country proud in the very first Commonwealth Games.
2) Bhim Singh Wins the Gold in Jamaica 1966 The British Empire Games in 1966 was held in Kingston, Jamaica and remains a memorable tournament for India due to the exploits of Bhim Singh in heavyweight wrestling in the tournament. Winning a gold in wrestling but winning it in the heavyweight category is surely an achievement that was regarded as a big thing and that also made sceptics look up and take notice of India’s standing in the world of wrestling, since Lila Sam Sangwan’s gold winning effort in 1958 was brushed aside as flash in the pan.
3) Harish Rajendra’s Gold Medal at the 1970 Event
India have always been a powerhouse in the wrestling events at the Commonwealth Games for many years and that was a reputation that was reinforced at the 1970 event that took place at Edinburgh, Scotland. India won 5 gold medals in total in the different categories in wrestling; however the standout performance was from Harish Rajindra who won the gold medal in the middleweight category. The other medals were in the lower weight categories and that is why Rajindra’s performance deserves an entry into this list of super performances by Indian athletes at the CWG.
4) Prakash Padukone Gold at the 1978 Games
Prakash Padukone is arguably India’s greatest ever badminton player and even before he had won the prestigious All England Championships in 1980, he had stamped his authority on the world game through his dominant performance that led to a gold medal at the 1978 CWG at Edmonton. It was India’s first win in badminton in the CWG and even today that win is regarded as one of the reasons why badminton players across India started taking the game far more seriously. It is without doubt one of India’s biggest achievements in the CWG.
5) Jaspal Rana Double Gold at 1994 CWG
At a time when India struggled to compete in the Olympics, the incredible achievement of Jaspal Rana in the 1994 CWG at Victoria, Canada stands out as one of the greatest achievements by an Indian in the history of the event. He won gold in the singles pistol shooting event beating Michael Gault of England in the final while the other event was a doubles one in which he paired up with Ashok Pandit to beat the Australian duo of Kelvin Vickers and Phil Adams. It was a performance that has now placed him among some of India’s greatest performers at the CWG.
6) Akhil Kumar’s Gold at the 2006 Melbourne Games
India did not do too well at the 2006 CWG at Melbourne but Akhil Kumar was one of the shining lights for the Indian contingent as he won the gold in boxing in his owncategory and without a shred of a doubt it should count as one of the greatest achievements by a boxer at the CWG for India. The weight category was 54 kg Bantamweight and throughout the event Kumar displayed outstanding technique and skill in the ring that culminated to the win in the final against Bruno Julia of Mauritius.
7) Lila Ram Sangwan’s Wrestling Gold in 1958 Games
At the 1958 CWG at Cardiff, Wales there wasn’t much expectation in wrestling and that too in the heavyweight category, however Lila Ram Sangwan proved everybody wrong with a superb performance in the final versus Jacobus Hanekom of the Netherlands to clinch India’s first ever gold in wrestling.
8) Ali Qamar’s Boxing Gold at Manchester 2002
India might now be a boxing powerhouse in the subcontinent but the seed of that revolution was sown by Kolkatan boxer Ali Qamar who won the gold in his categoryat the 2002 CWG at Manchester. When the Indian contingent arrived in Manchester for the 2002 CWG, no one really gave India a chance in the boxing categories but Ali Qamar started to sway opinions after his initial displays in the tournament and in the final he beat overwhelming favourite and British hope Darren Langley in a tense finish. The achievement made him into an overnight superstar in Indian sports.
9) Krishna Poonia’s Gold at Delhi, 2010
At the Commonwealth Games that were staged in New Delhi in 2010, Krishna Poonia pulled off one of the greatest ever performances by an Indian athlete and her performance in the discus throw event of that year will forever be remembered as a watershed event in Indian athletics. Milkha Singh had won gold at the track and field event of 1958 in Cardiff but it took a long wait of more than 50 years for that wait to end and win a medal at a track and field event and it was Poonia who ended it with a remarkable performance in the women’s discus throw event in the Delhi CWG.
10) Milkha Singh’s Gold at the 1958 Games.
The gold winning effort of Milkha Singh at the 1958 CWG at Cardiff, Wales that paved the way for a new chapter in the history of Indian sports. Although it is true that he narrowly lost out on a gold at the Olympics he did not leave anything to chance in the 440 yards track event at the Cardiff games and won the final in a canter without giving his opponents a sniff. It was India’s first ever gold in the Commonwealth Games and it is fitting that it was won by the India’s most inspirational athlete and arguably the greatest ever in our history. Here again after those exciting years of brilliant success we are still producing people like Ashish Kumar and Dipa Karmakar, winning India’s first ever medals in Gymnastics in both men and women respectively in 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games .
At this year’s Games at Glasgow Vikas Gowda became only the second male athlete to win Gold in a track and field event after the Great Milkha Singh’s Gold at the 1958 games. Vikas Gowda won the Yellow medal in the Discus Throw event. These magnificent results in areas where we had never tasted success before will only inspire our future generation to bring glory to our nation. The onus is on us to provide them with the best of infrastructure, routine and well equipped coaches so that we could see our nation’s tri- colour flying high.