First Olympic Gold Medal Won by India was in 1928 Olympics in hockey. India defeated the host country Holland 3-0 in the finals. Legendary Dhyan Chand scored two goals in the final. Indian goalkeeper Richard Allen had the unique distinction of not conceding a single goal throughout the tournament. The gold medal won by the Indian hockey team in 1928 was the first Olympic gold medal won by Asia in the modern Olympics. India has won a total of eight gold medals in hockey at Olympics. From 1928 Amsterdam Olympics to 1956 Melbourne Olympics India won six consecutive gold medals at hockey. The two other gold medals for India came in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
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P.T. Usha was the first Indian woman to reach Olympic finals. She reached the finals of the 400 metres hurdles in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Usha lost the bronze by 1/100th of a second.
P.T. Usha was born on May 20, 1964 in the village of Payyoli, in Kozhikode District in Kerala. Nicknamed as Payyoli Express, P.T. Usha passed out from the Sports School for Women started by Kerala Government. Renowned coach O.M. Nambiar noticed Usha's talent during the National School Games in 1979 and took her under his wings. She made her debut in 1980 Moscow Olympics. In 1982, Delhi Asian Games, P.T. Usha won silver medals in 100 m and 200 m. Usha came into her own at the Asian Track and Field Championship at Kuwait in 1983, where she took gold in the 400 m and set a new Asian record. In 1986 Seoul Asian Games, P.T. Usha won 4 gold and 1 silver medal in the track and field events and created new Asian Games records in all the events she participated. For her achievements, P.T. Usha was conferred with the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award in the year 1985.
Ramanathan Krishnan, one of the legends of Indian tennis, is the first Indian to win Wimbledon Junior Singles title. Ramanathan Krishnan achieved this feat in 1954 by beating Ashley Cooper in the finals. In the process, he also became the first Asian to do so.
Ramanathan Krishnan was born on April 11, 1937. He honed his tennis skills under the watchful eyes of his father T.K. Ramanathan. Krishnan won the national senior title for eight consecutive years. Ramanathan Krishnan established himself as an international tennis star and was rated among the top ten in the world on five different occasions. He was seeded 4 in the Wimbledon of 1962. In 1960, Krishnan reached the semifinals of the Wimbledon but lost to the eventual champion Fraser. He again reached the semifinals next year, but champion Rod Laver got the better of him. He was also a member of the Indian team which reached the final of the Davis Cup in the year 1966.
Leander Paes was the first Indian to Win Junior US Open Title. Leander Paes won the US Open championship in 1991 by defeating Karim Alami of Morocco 6-4, 6-4.
Leander Peas is one of the few sportsmen of India who are known for their killer instinct and never-say-die spirit. Born on June 17, 1973, Leander Paes shot into limelight when he won the 1990 Wimbledon Junior title and attained top rank in the junior world-rankings. Though there is nothing much to write about his international career as a singles player, he teamed up with Mahesh Bhupathi to form a formidable doubles player. The two have won a number of Grand Slam titles.
Leander has also scripted some memorable victories in the Davis Cup over his more fancied rivals. He won a bronze medal for India at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Prakash Padukone is the first Indian to win All England Badminton Championship. He won the coveted All England Open title in 1980 with a victory over Liem Swie King of Indonesia.
Prakash Padukone was born on 10 June 1955. He was initiated into badminton by his father Ramesh Padukone who was the Secretary of the Mysore Badminton Association. He won the National Junior Title and Senior Title in the year 1972 and thereafter he won the National Title consecutively for the next seven years, until 1979. Prakash Padukone won his first major international title in 1979 at the Commonwealth games. He also won the London Masters' Open, the Danish Open and the Swedish Open.
Prakash Padukone was awarded with Arjuna award in 1972 and the Padma Shri in 1982.
Norman G Pritchard, an Anglo-Indian athlete from Calcutta, was the first Indian to take part in Olympic Games. Norman G Pritchard was not the official representative of India. He was holidaying in Paris and participated on his own at the 1900 Paris Olympic Games and competed in four events - 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and 200m hurdles. He bagged two silver medals, one each in 200m and 200m hurdles. He won his first medal on July 16, 1900 when he finished second only to the American athlete Alvin Kraenzlein in 200m hurdles. The event has been discontinued since. Pritchard won his second medal on July 22, 1900 in the 200m. India made its official debut in the Antwerp Olympics in Belgium in 1920.
Some other Indians who performed creditably at the Olympics are:
1. Hennery Rebello qualified for the final of the Triple Jump in 1948 London Olympics.
2. Sprinter Lavy Pinto reached the semi finals of 100 m and 200 m events at Helsinki in 1952. Sohan Singh also performed the same feat in 800 m at Helsinki Olympics.
3. PT Usha became first Indian lady to enter the finals of any Olympic event. She entered the finals of 400 m Hurdles at 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
4. Anju Bobby George entered the finals of Women Long Jump at 2004 Athens Olympics.
Anju Bobby George is the first Indian athlete to win a medal in World Athletics Championship. Anju entered record books when she won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris. Anju Bobby George won the medal with a jump of 6.70 m in the penultimate round.
Anju started her athletics career with Heptathlon and later on moved to Long Jump and Triple Jump. In 1999 Anju set the national record for triple jump in the Bangalore Federation Cup. In 2001 Anju broke her own record in Long Jump with an effort of 6.74 m in the National Circuit Meet at Thiruvananthapuram. She won the bronze medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games at Manchester and gold medal at the Asian Games in Busan. Anju Bobby George finished sixth at the 2004 Athens Olympics but achieved a personal best of 6.83 m.
Anju has won many awards and honours. She is the recipient of India's highest sporting award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna for the year 2003. She was honoured with Padma Shri in 2004, and with Arjuna Award in the year 2002.
Milkha Singh was the first Indian athlete to reach Olympic finals. Milkha Singh reached the finals of 400 m at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He finished fourth in the finals and clocked a timing of 45.6 seconds. Mlkha Singh missed the bronze medal by just a difference of 0.1 second.
Milkha Singh is nicknamed The Flying Sikh. He was born in Lyallpur (now in Pakistan) on 8 October 1935. He lost his parents during partition. Milkha Singh also worked in the Indian Army for a short time. He came into limelight during the National Games at Patiala in 1956. In 1958, Milkha Singh set 200 and 400 meters record in the National games at Cuttack. The same year he established new records in the 200 and 400 meters in the Asian games at Tokyo. Milkha Singh also won the gold medal in the 1958 Commonwealth Games at Cardiff. Milkha Singh was conferred with Padma Shri in 1958.