India is aiming high in the on-going Olympics in Rio de Janeiro which features the largest Indian contingent at the games ever. Norman Pritchard was the first Indian to win a medal, by picking up the silver medal in the 200-metre sprint at the 1900 Paris Olympics. During the 1928 Games in Amsterdam, India won its first gold medal by virtue of the Indian Men’s Hockey team.
Till date India has won 26 Olympic medals, but the tally could have increased considerably if luck had favoured the nation. A few days back, Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra failed to grab a medal when he lost the shoot-off in the Men’s 10-metre air rifle event to Ukraine’s Serhiy Kulish. There have been instances where Indian’s faltered in the final moment and missed out on Olympic glory.
Let us have a look at 5 instances where Indian athletes came closest to winning an Olympic medal:
1) Milkha Singh (1960, Rome)
Milkha Singh is arguably the most prominent athlete in Indian history at the Olympics before Abhinav Bindra’s Gold medal win at the Beijing Olympics. The “Flying Sikh” was introduced into the sport while he was serving in the Indian army.
A recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri award, Milkha was the first Indian to win an individual athletics gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Born in Punjab during pre-Independence period, he faced the perils of communal riots. But he managed to put the troubles behind and eventually moved to Delhi and stayed with his sister for a brief spell and it was his brother Malkhan, who forced him to join the army. The Punjab-born won several Medals in his career including 2 medals each in 1958 Tokyo and 1962 Jakarta Asian games.
But his most popular and disappointing moment of his career came during the 1960 Rome Olympics where he finished fourth in the 400 metres sprint category. He missed out on an Olympic medal by a negligible margin in a photo finish, having taken only 0.1 seconds more than South African Malcolm Spence.