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India first participated in Olympics in 1900 in Paris. The country was represented by Norman Pritchard, an Anglo Indian who was holidaying in Paris during that time. He bagged two silver medals in 200m. dash and 200m hurdles. Then after a gap of 20 years India again participated with two athletes in 1920 Antwerp Olympics and with eight members in 1924 Paris Olympics.
But the more organised, official representation by India, was made in 1928 Amsterdam, with the formation of Indian Olympic Association in 1927. Dorabji Tata was the first president and Dr A C Northern of Young Men's Christian Association, Madras was the secretary. That year, Indian Hockey team participated in their first Olympic hockey event and won the gold medal under the captaincy of Jaipal Singh. For the next 6 successive Olympics spanning 28 years from 1928-1956, Indians retained their gold medal for the hockey event. Hockey wizard Dhyan Chand played a major role in Indian victory in the first three successive wins. It was definitely the golden era of Indian Hockey in Olympics, during which India played 24 matches and won all 24, scored 178 goals (at an average of 7.43 goals per match) and conceded only 7 goals. India again won two more gold medals in Olympic hockey in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
In athletics, six Indians and the 4x400 women's relay team have reached the finals of their events in Olympics. They are Norman Pritchard in 1900 (two silvers in sprint and hurdles), Henry Rebello in 1948 London (Triple Jump), Milkha Singh 1960 Rome ( fourth place in 400 metres), Gurbachan Singh Randhawa 1964 Tokyo (fifth place in 100 m hurdles), Sriram singh 1976 Montreal ( seventh in 800m), P.T Usha in 1984 Los Angeles ( fourth in 400m hurdles) who unfortunately lost her bronze by 1/100th of a second and the 4 member squad of the 400m. women's relay P.T.Usha, M.D.Valsamma, Vandana Rao, Shiny Abraham reached seventh place, the same year.
Apart from Hockey and a few fine performances in athletics, India's record in the Olympics paints a dismal picture, for a country having a population of over a billion people. Apart from the 8 gold medals, one silver medal and two bronzes in Hockey, two silver medals in athletics, India has won bronzes for wrestling ( Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav 1952 Helsinki), shooting ( Dr Karni Singh 1964 Tokyo), tennis ( Leander Paes 1996 Atlanta) and weightlifting ( Karnam Malleswari 2000 Sydney).