By 1960, the exploits of Indian hockey team and Milkha Singh had put India on the Olympic map. But, the performance of Indian Olympians thereafter was nothing noteworthy.
1964 Tokyo: India regained their Olympic hockey gold as the Indian team led by Charanjit Singh defeated Pakistan 1-0 at the first ever Olympics to be staged in Asia. Gurbachan Singh Randhawa secured 5th place in the 110 hurdles*. It was a Japanese rebirth as the Summer Olympics represented a reacceptance to the world community and the end of a long, bleak period for many Japanese.
The Tokyo games were memorable for the British team which achieved its best haul of medals since the 1908 games. Ethiopia`s surprise winner in the Rome marathon, Abebe Bikila, retained his title - just six weeks after having his appendix removed. South Africa were barred from taking part in the Olympic Games in Tokyo over its refusal to condemn apartheid.
1968 Mexico: Indian hockey team managed to defeat West Germany 2-1 for the bronze medal as Pakistan went on to win the gold. It was very small contingent sent by India for the Games. Infamous for the ‘Black salute’, the 1968 Olympics saw one of the biggest political statements being made.
African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos after winning gold and bronze respectively in the 200 metre dash protested with raised fist gesture at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City. The two U.S. athletes received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty.
1972 Munich: It was called the ‘Happy Olympics’ but ironically, the biggest tragedy in the Games history came in this edition. A terrorist attack by Palestinian terrorists belonging to the Black September organization killed 11 Israeli athletes and coaches and a West German police officer. The five terrorists were also killed.
India won another bronze in hockey. Mark Spitz set a world record when he won seven gold medals (setting a new world record for each of his seven gold medals) in a single Olympics. The superhuman feat by Spitz was broken by Michael Phelps in 2008. The Games also witnessed what is dubbed as the ‘the most controversial game in international basketball history’ as United States lost to the USSR in the gold medal match. The US team refused to accept their silver medals, which remain held in a vault in Lausanne, Switzerland.
1976 Montreal: No medals for India in 1976 Games as Indian hockey team finished a disappointing 7th. Long jumper TC Yohannan was the star performer for India but his 7.67m jump in the heats was not enough for qualification. Yohannan came into the limelight during Teheran Asian Games of 1974 where he cleared a distance of 8.07 metres. It was a performance rated at par with that of Milkha Singh`s record breaking run in the Rome Olympics. Sriram Singh finished seventh in the 800 metre race*. BThe Games witnessed history as at the age of 14, gymnast Nadia Comaneci of Romania scored seven perfect 10.0 and won three gold medals, including the prestigious All-Around. Those were the first perfect 10s in the Olympics Games long history.
1980 Moscow: India won a record 8th gold in men`s hockey in a field of just six teams. Boxer Ganapathy Manoharan impressed entering the third round where he lost to Geraldi Issaick. PT Usha made her Olympic debut at the Games in the 100 metre dash. The Games marred by the boycott of the United States and a number of other countries protesting against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan saw Teófilo Stevenson of Cuba became the first boxer to win three consecutive Olympic titles in boxing heavyweight category, the only boxer to win the same event in 3 Games.
1984 Los Angeles: History would repeat itself as PT Usha came agonizingly close to an Olympic medal in the 400 meters hurdles only to finish 4th, losing out the bronze by one-hundredth of a second. Milkha Singh had come 4th in a photo finish at the 1960 Rome Olympics. The games witnessed one of the strongest performances by the Indian track and field contingent as Shiny Wilson reached the semifinals of 800 metres with a (then) personal best of 2:04.69 seconds and became the first Indian woman to reach the semi-finals of an Olympic event. Later, the Indian women`s 4x400 metre relay team comprising P. T. Usha, Shiny Abraham, M. D. Valsamma and Vandana Rao made it to the finals. They finished last among the seven teams in the final, but set an Asian record of 3:32.49 seconds.
The Games was boycotted by the Eastern bloc but many significant feats where achieved during the Los Angeles Games. Carl Lewis, making his first of four appearances at the Olympics, equaled the 1936 performance of Jesse Owens by winning four gold medals, in the 100 m, 200 m, 4x100 m relay and long jump. Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco became the first female Olympic champion of a Muslim nation, and the first of her country in the 400m hurdles. Sebastian Coe became the first man to win consecutive gold medals in the 1500m. Also the first ever women’s marathon was held in 1984 won by American Joan Benoit.
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* Information added later, courtesy oldfogey (firstname.lastname@example.org)