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India's Olympic Heroes at Tokyo 2020

The seven medals India won at the Tokyo Olympics was the country's best ever performance, beating 2012's six.

Updated
Olympic Sports
6 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>The seven medals India won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was the country's best-ever performance, beating London 2012's medal haul of six.</p></div>
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The seven medals India won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was the country's best-ever performance, beating London 2012's medal haul of six. India started the Olympics with a medal, thanks to Mirabai Chanu's silver in weightlifting, and ended the Games with a medal as well, a gold by Neeraj Chopra in the Men's Javelin Throw Final. The last fortnight saw it all - willpower, triumph, joy, upsets, disappointments and shockers. Here, we bring you some of the best Indian moments and performances from the Tokyo Olympics.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>An ecstatic Neeraj Chopra reacts after winning gold</p></div>

An ecstatic Neeraj Chopra reacts after winning gold

Image: PTI

India's Golden Moment

Neeraj Chopra, the 23-year-old javelin-thrower from village Khandra in Panipat, Harayana, gave India its first gold medal in track and field. His first throw of 87.03m would have been enough, but it was his second attempt of 87.58m that sealed the deal. At that moment, he knew he had done something special as he turned around and raised his arms, looking at the Indian contingent in the stands, thinking (and hoping) he had bettered his personal best of 88.07m. While that wasn't to be, no one was complaining as he became the first Indian in 13 years to win a gold medal after Abhinav Bindra. The fact that no other athlete managed an 87m throw showed Chopra's dominance. The biggest shock of the day was Germany's Johannes Vetter, who finished ninth with a throw of 82.52m and was eliminated after the first three attempts itself. However, what mattered for India was the country's Golden Boy standing on the podium, with the national anthem playing in the background and tears welling up in a billion eyes.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Humble: Mirabai after winning silver</p></div>

Humble: Mirabai after winning silver

Image: PTI

Mirabai Chanu Lifts Spirits

The 27-year-old girl from Imphal gave a perfect start to India's campaign at the Tokyo Olympics. The weightlifter won a silver medal in the women's 49kg category and gave India its second medal in weightlifting after Karnam Malleswari's bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She lifted a total of 202kgs, with a lift of 87kgs in snatch and 115kgs in clean and jerk, which was 8kgs more than the next best. A bright smile, a polite bow and Namaste to the judges followed on screen. A loud phone call and bhangra followed off it.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Ravi Kumar Dahiya won India's second silver medal</p></div>

Ravi Kumar Dahiya won India's second silver medal

Image: PTI

Dahiya Wins Silver, Loses Heart on Missing Gold

Wrestler Ravi Kumar Dahiya gave India its second silver medal of the Games and fifth overall. While he lost his 57kg final to two-time defending world champion Zavur Uguev of Russia, his semi-final match against Kazakhstan's Nurislam Sanayev was the talk of the town. Ravi was trailing his opponent by seven points, losing 9-2, but managed to get hold of his rival in the dying seconds with a double leg attack that resulted in a victory by fall. However, the silver medal did not please Dahiya. "I did not come to Tokyo for a silver medal. It will not give me satisfaction. I could not achieve what I wanted to."

<div class="paragraphs"><p>All Smiles: PV Sindhu</p></div>

All Smiles: PV Sindhu

Image: PTI)

Two in Two for PV Sindhu

She followed her silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a bronze in Tokyo. And with that, she became the first Indian woman and second Indian overall, after Sushil Kumar, to achieve the feat. She was at her dominant best throughout, winning all her matches until the quarter-finals in straight games. The only time she dropped two games was in the semi-final against Tai Tzu Ying. Tears and heartbreak followed. However, she believes in living in the present. She forgot her semi-final loss and won the bronze medal match the very next day. Her coach's words, 'a bronze medal is better than 4th position' haunted her at first and then went on to inspire her.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Pumped Up: Lovlina Borgohain</p></div>

Pumped Up: Lovlina Borgohain

Image: PTI

Lovlina Reaches New Heights

Lovlina Borgohain won India's lone boxing medal at the Tokyo Games, a bronze, in her very first Olympics. With that, she became the third Indian boxer, after Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom, to finish on the podium. She had a remarkable campaign, where she managed to upstage former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei in the 69kg category. This was despite her contracting Covid-19 earlier in the year and missing out on the training camp in Europe. India was fortunate that this 23-year-old pugilist from Assam's Golaghat district decided to give up kickboxing.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Happy and Relieved: The Indian hockey team celebrates after winning the bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.</p></div>

Happy and Relieved: The Indian hockey team celebrates after winning the bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

Image: PTI

Hockey Men Create History

An Olympic medal after 41 years. A bronze medal after 49 years. The wait, which had itched and irked many, was finally over! The men-in-blue beat Germany 5-4 to win a bronze medal, India's 12th Olympic hockey medal. PR Sreejesh, the Great Wall of India, came up with a brilliant save in the dying few seconds and was exceptional throughout the tournament. It won't be wrong to say this team was destined to win. The way they came back after the 1-7 thrashing at the hands of Australia was inspiring. Simranjeet Singh, who wasn't even a part of the original squad, scored a brace in the bronze medal match. Their victory and medal will surely help revive the sport and make hockey a national passion once again!

<div class="paragraphs"><p> Bajrang Punia won the Bronze medal</p></div>

Bajrang Punia won the Bronze medal

Image: Shruti Mathur/The Quint

An Injured Bajrang wins Bronze, Respect

Just like Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Bajrang Punia, too, was disappointed with a bronze medal and even apologised to the country, showing what gold, and nothing but gold, means to them. The 27-year-old, who was making his Olympic debut, was seeded second and was a favourite heading into the Games. Not at his best, he was too defensive at times but managed to finish in third place despite a heavily strapped right knee, which he had injured last month. After thrashing Kazakhstan's Daulet Niyazbekov 8-0, Bajrang said he would try to win a gold medal in Paris 2024.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Shining Star: Aditi Ashok </p></div>

Shining Star: Aditi Ashok

Image: PTI / Darron Cummings

Aditi Ashok Stuns the World

A world no. 200 golfer gave competition to the world no.1, made life difficult for others and was in contention for a medal until her last shot (In fact, she was in second place after round three i.e. 54 holes). More importantly, she had a cricket-crazy nation watching golf in the early hours of a Saturday morning, trying to understand eagles, par and bogies, and cheering her on with her every attempt. That's what Aditi Ashok managed to achieve with her fourth-place finish. Her mother had replaced her father as her caddy this time around and kept the mood light, ensuring her daughter does not feel any pressure.

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<div class="paragraphs"><p>The women's hockey team finished fourth.</p></div>

The women's hockey team finished fourth.

Image: PTI

Hockey Women Win Hearts

Saying the women's hockey team came up with an inspiring performance would be an understatement! The women created history by finishing fourth, their best-ever performance at the games. From a bottom-placed finish at Rio 2016 to finishing fourth, the women's hockey team has come a long way. While the 3-4 loss to Great Britain in the bronze medal match was disappointing, the Indian women gave it their all and earned respect from their opponents and the whole country. After starting their campaign with three losses on the trot, the Indian women bounced back in style, winning their next two matches. Securing a place in the round of 16, thanks to Ireland's loss to Great Britain, the Indian team beat South Africa to enter the quarter-finals thanks to Vandana Katariya's hat-trick. They shocked the mighty Australians next with a 1-0 win to enter their maiden semi-finals.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>So close! Deepak Punia</p></div>

So close! Deepak Punia

Image: PTI

Punia Misses it by a Whisker

Deepak Punia raced to the semi-finals and was just 10-seconds away from a medal. But, it wasn't to be. The 22-year-old, making his debut in the Olympics, conceded a takedown and lost to Myles Amine in the men's 86kg freestyle bronze medal match.

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