Early next month, we will see the fastest man in the world trading the track for a bat, in a one-of-a-kind cricket match against Yuvraj Singh. is bringing Jamaican sprinting star Usain Bolt down to India on a maiden visit for the promotional event to be held on Puma, India September 2 at Chinnaswamy stadium, that is being referred to as ' Bolt and Yuvi - Battle of the Legends'.
Usain St Leo Bolt’s reputation precedes him. Having won a whopping three gold medals and breaking three world records at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China and touted by many as the most naturally gifted athlete the world has encountered, he has taken the benchmark in athletics up several notches by becoming the first man in Olympic history to win both the 100m and 200m in world record times. He fiercely defended all three of his Olympic titles with 100m, 200m and 4x100m victories at the 2012 Olympic Games in London as well, creating history.
Usain Bolt; Image Source: thesundaytimes.co.ukHe has famously been challenged by a range of people, right from Mo Farah to NBC talk show host Jimmy Fallon to 103-year-old Japanese sprinter Miyazaki Hidekichi so suffice to say, Bolt has become a name synonymous with Track and Field, regardless of where you're from. Only a few sporting names have ever transcended borders so effortlessly. In light of his impending visit to India however, we realized that despite the general lack of interest in the field, there have definitely been both athletes and moments, worth taking note of. So we decided to look back at a timeline of the benchmarks set by Indian athletes over the years in the history of India track and field.
Milkha Singh, a trailblazer in Indian track and field, more commonly known as 'The Flying Sikh,' had his breakthrough at the National Games in Patiala. It saw him qualify for the Olympics in Melbourne later in the same year and set the precedent for things to come. However, the games saw him exit in the earlier heats itself.
1956: Milkha Singh; Image Source: totapies.blogspot.in
1958: Milkha Singh, a trailblazer in Indian track and field, won two gold medals in the 200 metre and 400 metre finals each, at the commonwealth games in Cardiff and the Asian Games in Tokyo.
1959: Milkha Singh was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Indian sports. Milkha Singh being awarded the Padmashree; Image Source: totapies.blogspot.in
Orphaned during the Partition of India, Singh came to be known as ‘
1960: The Flying Sikh’, cementing his place as a sporting legend in India. He discovered his penchant for the sport while still serving in the Indian Army and is known for his fourth place ranking in the famous 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games, for which he was one of the leading contenders. At the end of a landmark race that saw several records broken, he was the fourth man to do so, with his time of 45.73 becoming the national record that endured for almost 40 years.
1962: Milkha Singh then won two gold medals in the 1962 Asian Games as well, one for the 400 metre event and the other for the 400 metre relay race. Milkha Singh; Image source: totapies.blogspot.in
Following a bit of a lull without
1976: Milkha Singh's fiery presence, another Singh came to the rescue. Shivnath Singh, one of the few great long-distance runners in India, represented India in the Asian Games, Summer Olympics in Montreal and the Olympic Men’s Marathon, the last of which he placed 11th in.
1978: Shivnath Singh, who ran barefoot all his running career, currently holds the Indian national record for the best marathon time, 2:12:00. He clocked this time in Jalandhar in 1978, a feat that present-day athletes are still trying to improve upon. Geeta Zutshi, champion middle-distance runner, also won one gold and two silver medals in the 1978 Asian Games.
Fondly referred to as the ‘Payyoli Express’ and the golden girl because of her speed on the track,
1979: PT Usha participated in the National School Games. This was the point at which O. M. Nambiar (who coached her throughout most of her career) spotted her, recognising immense potential in her. This was, no doubt, a pivotal point in her career and in Indian track & field. PT Usha, Image Source: indianathletics.in
This is when PT Usha’s illustrious career as a runner really gained momentum, and she gained the epithet of ‘the queen of Indian track and field’. She was conferred the Arjuna award.
1985: PT Usha awarded the prestigious Padma Shri in 1985.
In the Seoul Asian Games of 1986, Usha won the Adidas Golden Shoe Award for the best athlete. Named the 'Sportsperson of the Century' by the Indian Olympic Association, P. T. Usha is indisputably one of the best athlete’s Indian track and field has ever seen.
The Junior Asian Championship saw Anju Bobby George cinch the gold, the first indication of her immense potential in athletics with a marked inclination towards Long Jump.
1996: Image Source: iaaf.org
Anil Kumar Prakash represented India relay at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, in 4 x 100 metres, where his team made 40.23 s in the first round. The team came 7th here. The sprint athlete from Kerala also established the current 200 metres national record (20.73 s) established at the National Circuit Athletic Meet held in Bangalore.
Odhisha-based Anuradha Biswal, specialising in 100 metre hurdles, set the current national record, clocking at 13.38 seconds. Her performance during the DDA-Raja Bhalendra Singh National Circuit meet held at the Nehru Stadium in Delhi, saw her beat her own record of 13.40 seconds at the Asian Championships in Jakarta in 2000.
2002: 352_3Anju Bobby George became the first Indian woman to win a bronze medal, clearing 6.49 m at the Commonwealth Games at Manchester, and also won the gold medal at the Busan Asian Games.
The World Athletics Championship in Paris in 2003 saw Anju Bobby George shoot to fame with a historical bronze medal in Long Jump, the pinnacle of her career. This was also when Anju received the esteemed Arjuna award.
2003: Fauja Singh is a world record-holder in his age bracket, with the British centenarian of Punjabi-Sikh descent having set the records for the 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, mile and 3000 m – all of which he established within a single 94 minute span. His current personal best for the London Marathon (2003) is 6 hours 2 minutes, while his marathon record, for his 90+ age bracket, is 5 hours 40 minutes at the age of 92, at the 2003 Toronto Waterfront Marathon. 2003---faujha-singh
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award is conferred upon
2004: Anju Bobby George. ibnlive Budhia Singh: Possibly one of India's most amazing athletic tales, born in 2002, Budhia Singh had run and completed 48 marathons by the time he was 4. Born into an impoverished family, his mother sold him to a traveling salesman for INR 800. Budhia Singh was later taken on by Biranchi Das, a local judo coach and orphanage operator, as the salesman treated him very badly, and went to live at the local Judo hall with the other orphans in Das’ charge. One day, Bhujia was punished for being a ‘saucy lad’ by way of which Biranchi Das was making him run. However, Das forgot about Budhia and returned a couple of hours later to find Budhia still running. Medical check-ups showed that his heart rate was found to be normal despite having been running for hours. Das thus began training Budhia to run marathons. budhia-singh-2004
2005 Anju Bobby George considers her IAAF World Athletics final her personal best performance, for which she won the gold medal. Following the disqualification of Tatyana Kotova of Russia by the International Association of Athletics Federations, Anju’s silver was upgraded to gold status, in the 2005 World Athletics Final in Monte Carlo. anju-bobby-george---2005 Santhi Soundarajan, from Tamil Nadu, won a silver medal at the Asian Athletics Championships in South Korea. Anil Kumar Prakash set the current 100 metres national record of 10.30 s, that he still holds, at the National Circuit Athletic Meet held in New Delhi. Just for a reference, the world record is 9.58s right now.
Representing India at the Asian Games run by the Olympic Council of Asia, in South Korea,
2006: Santhi Soundarajan cinched the silver clocking at 2 minutes, 3.16 seconds, beating Viktoriya Yalovtseva from Kazakhstan by 0.03. Winded and in disbelief, she lay on the track in the wake of her triumph. It was a heartbreakingly short-lived one, though, as she was stripped off the medal after an embarrassing incident, that sparked off much debate, in which she was declared ineligible to participate in the women’s competition after failing a gender verification test. 2006---santhi-soundarajn
Sudha Singh won the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist in the 3,000m steeplechase, and holds the current national record for the same with a timing of 9:45.60, laid down during the 63rd National Inter-state Athletic Championships. The 27-year-old athlete from Rae Bareilly also qualified for the London Olympics when she bettered her own national record at the Iberoamericano international athletic meet at Huelva, Spain.
2010: sudha-singh-201025-year old Kavita Raut bagged a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games, the nation’s first-ever women's individual medal in track events. kavita-raut---210Kavita clocked at 33:05.28 minutes at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the gruelling 10,000m, 25-lap race at the heels of Kenyans Kwamboka Momanyi and Chepkwemo Changeywo, who took the gold and silver.
Ram Singh Yadav represented India at the Summer Olympics in London, the second Indian to have qualified for the marathon event of the Olympics (after Shivnath Singh).
In the second Asian Youth Games, Anjana Dhavalu Thamake picked up the third gold for India by winning the girl`s 800m race on the last day of the track and field events while Rochelle Macfarlane Maria, with a personal best of 12.38m, cinched a silver in girls’ triple jump to end the track and field campaign on a relative crest after 18 Indian track and field athletes were thrown out of the Games due to overage.
2013: 2013Thamake, who was competing as an Independent Olympic Athletic since India is serving a ban, clocked a personal best of two minutes 11.47 seconds to win the gold medal.
The Athletics Federation of India announced a 56-member
August 20, 2014: Indian Athletics Team, including 30 women athletes, for the 2014 Asian Games to be held in Incheon next month. August-20,-2014
Words: Aditi Dharmadhikari