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The 2nd milestone and achievement of India after independence, Olympics Bronze Medal Helsinki 1952: India's first individual medal in Indian Sports History

The 2nd milestone was the 1952 Olympics bronze medal won by Khashaba Jadhav in wrestling Independent India's first individual medal

Last updated: 19.11.2017
Balbir Singh Jr. with the Hockey trophy of Olympics. Image Courtesy: Chase Your Sport: Sports Social Blog

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India competed at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.  64 competitors, 60 men, and 4 women took part in 42 events in 11 sports. This marked the first time India had competed as an independent republic.

Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav had represented the country in the 1948 and 1952 Olympic Games and created a history in 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games in Wrestling. Defeating the wrestlers from Canada, Mexico, and Germany, he won the bronze medal on 23rd July 1952 thereby creating history by becoming Independent India's first individual medal winner.

In pics: Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav

It was difficult for him to adjust to the mat surface. After two rolling fouls, he missed out on the gold medal. The gold was won by Japan 's Ishii Shobachi while Russia 's Rashid Marnedekov clinched the silver. Moreover, there was no interval between the two bouts and to fight with two world-class wrestlers without appropriate rest was more than a Herculean effort"  

After Norman Pritchard who won two silver medals in athletics in 1900, Khashaba was the first individual athlete from India to win a medal at the Olympics.In the years before Khashaba, India would only win gold medals in field hockey, a team sport. He is the only Indian Olympic medalist who never received a Padma Award. Khashaba was extremely nimble on his feet, which made him different from other wrestlers of his time. English coach Rees Gardner saw this trait in him and trained him prior to the 1948 Olympic games.

Khashaba’s colleague, Krishnarao Mangave a wrestler, also participated in the same Olympics in another category but missed the bronze medal by just one point.


But an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal and a first is always special. The victory procession at the Karad railway station was a see-it-to-believe scene. "There were dhols along with a 151 bullock cart procession right from the outskirts of Goleshwar to the Mahadeva temple which is normally a 15-minute walk. It took seven long hours that day and no one was complaining. There was a feeling of pride and every villager was basking in that moment of glory. Khashaba bhau brought up in the small village of Goleshwar, earlier a dot on the map, to the fore. The whole world knew and recognized Goleshwar as the village which gave India its first-ever Olympic champion."

In the next upcoming blog on Indian Sports history, we will discuss Hockey World Cup, Malaysia 1975. 
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