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Some interesting Indian track & field athletics facts you might not have known, that probably won't change your life, but are definitively worth knowing...
Track and field is one of the oldest sports in history. It was one of the ancient Olympic events when the sport first started in Greece and has been an Olympic pastime for centuries now. Track and field is a fascinating sport because it combines individual and team aspects of athletics into one sport.
There are various lesser known and interesting facts about one of the most loved sports in the world.
Here are some facts and records that are worth knowing:
1) THE MAN WHO STARTED IT FOR INDIA
At the Olympic Games, the first Indian competitor was Norman Pritchard, an Anglo-Indian, who won silver medals in the 200 metres and 200 metres hurdles at the 1900 Summer Olympics. These remain the only athletics medals for India at the Olympics.
2) THE FIRST INDIAN MARATHON RUNNER AT OLYMPICS
Phadeppa Dareppa Chaugule was India's first Olympic marathon runner. He represented India in the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, and finished 19th with a timing of 2 hours 50 minutes 45.2 seconds.
3) TRIPLE JUMPER PAR EXCELLENCE
Henry Rebello was the first athlete from independent India to qualify for the Olympic finals. In a pre-Olympic meet, he had beaten all the triple-jumpers who were to participate at the Games and duly qualified for the Olympic finals. However, as luck would have it, he was forced by the officials and coaches to make his first jump in the finals without an adequate warm-up, and suffered a terrible injury as a result. He could not participate further at the Games, a promising career cut short.
Nilima Ghose became the first ever Indian woman at the Olympics when she was just 17 years old. Nilima was track and field athlete and competed in the 100m sprint and the 80m hurdles for India at the 1952 Games.
5) A PIONEER IN WOMEN ATHLETICS AND HOCKEY
Nilima wasn’t the only Indian woman at the 1952 games, another sprinter – a 22 year old Mary D’Souza Sequeira was also part of the Indian contingent for 100m and 200m races during the Helsinki Olympics. D'Souza won a bronze medal in the 200 metres and a silver medal in the 4x100m relay at the 1951 Asian Games. In hockey, she represented India at the 1953 and 1956 Hockey World Cups at London and Australia respectively. She was also a part of the team that played against Japan in 1962.
6) THE FLYING SIKH
Milkha Singh was the first track athlete from independent India to make it to the finals, where he finished a heartbreaking fourth. Singh who was the only Indian athlete to win an individual athletics gold medal at a Commonwealth Games until Krishna Poonia won the discus gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
7) INDIA'S FIRST EVER ARJUNA AWARDEE
Gurbachan Singh Randhawa was the first ever Arjuna awardee in 1961, and the winner of the gruelling decathlon event at the 1962 Asian Games. In addition to hurdles, he had 3 other NRs to his credit in javelin, decathlon and high jump.
8) TOWERING MIDDLE-DISTANCE RUNNER
Sriram Singh had set the Indian 800m record of 1:45.77 in 1976 Montreal Olympics which was the oldest Indian record, unbroken for 42 years till Jinson Johnson broke it in 2018.
9) PASSING THE BATON
The Indian Women’s 4 × 400 m relay team of MD Valsamma, Vandana Rao, Shiny Abraham and PT Usha finished 7th in the finals with a timing of 3:32.49, which was an Asian record at the time. They had qualified 7th from the heats with a timing of 3:33.85. This same foursome also comprised the ‘dream team’ which won Gold at the 1986 Asian Games, the first such relay medal for India. India’s enviable record in Women’s 4 × 400 m relay at the Asiad can be traced to the efforts of these four athletes.
10) SHINING THROUGH
Alongside PT Usha, Shiny Wilson never failed to set the track ablaze with her speed and determination. She was the first woman to serve as flag bearer for India in an Olympic Games, Barcelona, 1992. She is also the first Indian to represent Asia in four World Cups and only athlete to taken part in six Asian Track & Field events and first woman to enter the semi-final of an Olympic event.
11) LEAPING INTO HISTORY
2003 saw Anju Bobby George create history when she became the first Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Championships when she won bronze in Paris with an effort of 6.70m. She also achieved her personal best in her first Olympic appearance in Athens in 2004, with a jump of 6.83m, that saw finish at the sixth spot. Incidentally, 14 years later, this is still an Indian national record.
12 ) More eminently addressed as the ‘Queen of Indian Track and Field’, PT Usha is remembered as the youngest Indian sprinter to compete in an Olympic event at the age of 16
13 ) Also PT Usha holds the current world record for the most gold medals earned by a female athlete in a single track meet. She achieved this by winning five gold medals at the 1985 Asian Track and Field Meet at Jakarta- 100m in 11.64s, 200m in 23.05s, 400m in 52.62 and 400m hurdles in 56.64s and 4x400m relay.
14 ) Apart from being the first women Indian sprinter to reach the final at a global athletics event, at the World Youth Championships, Dutee Chand is also the first Indian woman to clinch gold in World Universiade. She won the 100-metre sprint gold at the 30th Summer University Games in Naples, Italy. She finished the race in 11.32 seconds.
15 ) In 2016, Neeraj Chopra created a junior world record with 86.48m javelin throw at the U20 World Championships. And he also became India's first javelin throw gold medallist at commonwealth games in 2018.
16 ) Hima Das is first Indian sprinter to win a gold medal at an international track event. Hima won the 400m final at the World U-20 Championships 2018 which were held at Tempere in Finland. The first Indian sprinter to do so.
17 ) Hima Das’s proud moment saw her join Neeraj Chopra (javelin gold medal in 2016), Seema Punia (discus bronze medal in 2002) and Navjeet Kaur Dhillon (discus bronze medal in 2014) as the only athletes from India to have medalled in a World Junior Championships.
18 ) Krishna Poonia came into national limelight after winning Gold in Women’s discus at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, one of the rare events where all the three medalists were Indians. She qualified for the finals in the 8th place with a throw of 63.54m, becoming the first Indian woman to qualify for the Olympic finals in a throwing event.
19 ) Just like fellow discus-thrower Krishna Poonia, Vikas Gowda too was a CWG 2010 discovery and similar to her, became the first Indian male athlete to make it to the Olympic finals in a throwing event. He qualified 5th with a throw of 65.20m, topping his qualification group, but could not continue the momentum in the finals, finishing 8th with a throw of 64.79m. He later went on to become first Indian to win the Gold at the 2014 CWGs.
20 ) Kamaljeet Sandhu became the first Indian female athlete to win an individual Asian Games gold medal, taking the 1970 title in the 400 metres.
21 ) In the sports of Athletics, If you move as the gun sounds, you have considered having false started as the human brain cannot hear and process the noise of the starting gun in under 0.10 seconds.
22 ) In 2019, Annu Rani became the first woman Javelin Thrower Athlete to make her place in the finals of the World Athletes Championship.
23 ) Kamalpreet Kaur is the first Indian to breach the 65m mark in the Discus throw at the 24th Federation Cup Senior Athletics Championships in 2021. By doing so, she qualified for her maiden Olympics at the Tokyo Games.
24 ) Chand Ram and Mercy Mathews Kuttan were the first two to represent India at the first World Athletics Championships in 1983. Mercy is also the first woman to jump more than six meters in Long Jump.
25 ) In 2017, hammer thrower Damneet Singh clinched silver and created history to become the first athlete from the country to win a medal at the IAAF U-18 World Championship.
26 ) Swapna Barman was born with six toes. She's had injuries to her knee, ankle, and back. Despite all that she became the first Indian to win the heptathlon gold medal at the Asian Games.
27 ) In 2018, Dharun Ayyasamy became first Indian to run 400m hurdles under 49 sec when he won Silver medal Second place medal in the Asian Games.
28 ) Avinash Sable, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 3000m steeplechase event, became the first Indian to run a half marathon under sixty one minutes.
29 ) In 2019, Kerala's Gopi Thonakal became first Indian male runner to win Gold in Asian Marathon Championship.
30 ) A Pole Vaulter, when he lands, may absorb up to 20,000 pounds of pressure per square inch on the joints of his/her tubular thigh ones.