Who would have thought that the first person to have represented India at the Olympics in athletics was of British descent? Norman Pritchard won two silver medals (Men’s 2oo metres and 200 metres hurdles) in the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris but the question of his representing India or England is controversial. Milkha Singh, nicknamed The Flying Sikh represented Indian in the 1956 Olympics and won two golds at the 1958 Asian Games. At the 1982 Asian Games, athletes like P.T. Usha, Shiny Wilson and M.D. Valsamma put India’s name on the world athletics map by winning a total of 20 medals. Other notable names include T.C. Yohannan, Sriram Singh, Jyotirmayee Sikdar, Saraswati Saha, Anju Bobby George and Chand Ram. While Indian states have their own training academies, athletes like P.T. Usha have opened coaching schools to mentor young and rising stars to go on to participate in competitive events including the Olympics.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's December 2012 Issue.