Indian Army to send its largest ever Olympic squad to Rio
With 13 athletes, the Army's sporting legacy seems to be getting stronger and stronger.
It’s no secret that the Indian Army has been consistently churning out the finest sportspersons in India, since the country’s independence in 1947. In Rio its going to be no different, with 13 Army Sports Institute trained athletes representing India on the grandest stage of them all. This year will also see a host of Army trained athletes, who aren’t necessarily part of the organisation don the Indian tri-colour as well.
Out of the 13 Army Men travelling to Brazil, eight will be a part of the Athletics team, three in shooting and one each in wrestling and rowing. Apart from the ones travelling, three racewalkers in Sumit Kumar, K T Irfan and Devender Singh all made the Rio cut, but couldn’t make the trip due to limited slots for one country. The list doesn’t end there, India’s boxing medal hopeful Shiva Thapa also trained under the country’s military setup before joining the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The 22-year old will be fighting in the 56 kg category.
Current Indian Hockey star former Subedar S V Sunil is also trained by the Indian Army. The athletes have been trained at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, Army Marksmanship Unit in Mhow and various Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres in India. Close to a decade ago, the Army revamped its grassroot level structure by incorporating the Army’s Boys Sports Compnay (ABSC), which specifically targets young cadets and grooms them into international superstars. Close to 20 ABSC’s have been setup across the country so far.
Founder of the ABSC united, Brigadier G S Sandhu spoke extensively about their plans of expansions in the future. He said, “The recent Olympic success has been met with great satisfaction from the Army. The number of ABSC’s will now be increased to 30 in the near future. This will help us in actually improving facilities to regions we are yet to explore as much. Among the new ones, we want to create a strong base in the North East. When we started we wanted to approach things differently. The Army already had a sporting base with rich tradition, however, we wanted to groom the young cadets with more scientific methods and tactical training of their mental setup as well. That is why I feel the Army has been able to adapt to the ever chaning sporting landscape.”
If a total calculation is done of the Indian Army’s presence at the Olympic Games, the number could well cross 20. Olympic medal winners such as Gagan Narang have firmly expressed the importance of the Army in their formative year, during an earlier interview with Sportskeeda. Being touted as one of India’s best bets for a medal, Nain Subedar Jitu Rai is also a part of the Army. In 2012, Vijay Kumar won silver highligting a progressive year for the organisation
Find the entire list of Rio Olympic participants here:
Naib Subedar Jitu Rai – 10m air pistol, 50m free pistol
Naib Subedar Chain Singh - 50m rifle prone, 50m rifle 3 position
Subedar Gurmeet Singh -10 m air pistol, 25m rapid pistol
Naib Subedar Jinson Johnson — Athletics — 800m
Havaldar Nitender Rawat - Marathon
Havaldar Ganapathi K - 20km walk
Havaldar Gopi T – Marathon
Naib Subedar Kheta Ram – Marathon
Subedar Kunhu MD - 4x400m relay
Naib Subedar Arokia Rajiv — Athletics — 4X400m relay
Dattu Bhokanal – Singles Sculls
Ravinder Khatri – 85 KG Greco Roman