India's 8 youngest Olympians and how they fared during their first Games

Shankar Narayan

Over the years, India have taken some compotent athletes to many an Olympics. While the results may not have gone their way, the supporters have certianly got a glimpse of many a upcoming talent who in the future would bring glory to the country.

Here’s a lot at some of India’s youngest Olympians and their performance in their 1st Games:

Note: Criteria for selection has been athletes who were below the age of 20 during their maiden appearance

1.PT Usha- 16 years and 69 days(Moscow 1980)

PT Usha's talent was first identified by Mr.O.M.Nambiar, who started coaching the youngster in 1979 and then a year later, saw her young pupil feature in her maiden Olympics in Moscow.

However, the experience proved to be a disappointing for Usha, who failed to progress through to the final in the Women's 100m, finishing well behind with a timing of 12.27.

It wasn't the greatest of starts to her Olympic career, but greatness was only going to come soon for the Indian, who would late go on to break many a record.

2.Abhinav Bindra- 17 years and 352 days(Sydney 2000)

It took Abhinav Bindra 3 Olympics to finally achieve his dream of being called an Olympic medalist.

But in the Australian summer of 2000, when the Games were held in Sydney, Bindra was still a rookie, amidst a plethora of other stars on view and aged 17, was India's youngest member among the 65-member contingent that had taken the long flight to Australia.

He didn't have the greatest of times at the event, finishing 11th in the Men's 10m Air Rifle event with a tally of 590.

3.Deepika Kumari-18 years and 43 days(London 2012)

The 2012 edition of the Games, staged in the British capital of London stage the event for the 3rd time in the Games history.

An 83-member Indian contingent left for the Old Blighty, 6 of whom formed the archery team. Among them was a young girl from Ranchi who had already created waves in the archery world.

Deepika Kumari had earlier that year won the gold in the Antalya World Cup and had ascended to the top of the world rankings.

But the Olympic stage proved to be too big a hurdle for her to cross for her in her maiden attempt and she faltered as early as the opening round, losing to Amy Oliver of Great Britain in the Women's Recurve.

4.Saina Nehwal-18 years and 144 days(Beijing 2008)

She had already created a buzz by becoming the first player to win the Asian Satellite Championships twice and then further showed the kind of talent she possessed by finishing runners-up at the World Junior Championships in 2008.

There were no expectations, however, when Saina Nehwal went to Beijing to feature in her maiden Olympics but did she surpass them or what, becoming the first Indian women shuttler to enter the quarterfinal stage of an Olympics, where she lost a thrilling contest to Wang Chen of Hong Kong.

She went one better in London four years later, clinching the bronze medal in the Women's Singles event.

5.Shiva Thapa- 18 years and 263 days(London 2012)

Shiva Thapa created history during the London Olympics in 2012 when he became the youngest Indian boxer to feature in the Summer Games. But that first Olympic nerves got the better of him in London, when he lost his opening round bout to Mexico's Oscar Valdez Fierro in the Bantamweight category.

6.Vijender Singh-18 years and 289 days(Athens 2004)

He may have now become a star in the professional circuit, but 12 years back, Vijender Singh came to Athens to compete in his maiden Olympics as an 18-year-old, having done well on home turf, especially at the Afro-Asian Games, a year before.

However, his tryst with the Olympics didn't begin in the most convincing fashion as he was ousted in the opening round by Mustafa Karagöllü of Turkey in the Lightweight category.

7.Leander Paes- 19 years and 38 days(Barcelona 1992)

Leander Paes's tryst with the Olympics began 24 years ago,when as a 19-year-old, he partnered Ramesh Krishnan and progressed through to the quarterfinals of the Summer Games.

However, he didn't any such luck in the Men's Singles,where he crashed out in the opening round.

Now heading into his 7th Olympics at Rio, Leander will look to win his second Olympic medal and a first one in doubles and thereby add yet another feather to an already illustrious career.

8.Soumyajit Ghosh- 19 years and 109 days(London 2012)

Ghosh became the youngest Indian to book a spot at the London Olympic fours years back, but couldn't progress beyond the second round at the event.He will be a part of the 2016 Rio Olympics as well.

Edited by Staff Editor


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