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Home / News / India /  From Neeraj Chopra to Mirabai Chanu, meet the stars of India's best-ever Olympic performance

With the unprecedented victory of Neeraj Chopra in India's history, the country's medal tally has gone up to 7 — the highest so far in any Olympics.

It is evident India capped off its best-ever performance for the first time in Olympics history.

As the Tokyo Olympics come to a close, take a look at the medallists and those who came within touching distance of glory but couldn't quite make it to the podium.


NEERAJ CHOPRA: GOLD

Neeraj Chopra holds the gold medal at the podium during the medal ceremony, after winning in the final of the men's javelin throw event at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
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Neeraj Chopra holds the gold medal at the podium during the medal ceremony, after winning in the final of the men's javelin throw event at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (PTI)

Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra became only the second Indian to win an individual gold in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. He became India's first track-and-field medal winner in the men's javelin throw with a best effort of 87.58m

The 23-year-old, a Subedar with 4 Rajputana Rifles in the Indian Army, has been a consistent performer since bursting into the scene with a historic gold in the junior world championships in 2016 with an Under-20 world record of 86.48m which still stands.

His other achievements include gold medals in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, besides the top finish in the 2017 Asian Championships.

MIRABAI CHANU: SILVER

India's Mirabai Chanu poses for a photograph as she wins a silver medal in the Women's 49kg weightlifting category at Tokyo Olympics 2020
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India's Mirabai Chanu poses for a photograph as she wins a silver medal in the Women's 49kg weightlifting category at Tokyo Olympics 2020


The 27-year-old weightlifter from Manipuri lifted the spirits of the entire nation as she ended a 21-year wait for a medal in weightlifting, clinching a silver medal in the 49kg category.

Chanu lifted a total of 202kg (87kg 115kg), finally exorcising the ghosts of her disastrous outing in the 2016 Rio Games where she had failed to log a single legitimate lift.

Born to a poor family in Nongpok Kakching village about 20 kilometres from Imphal, Chanu's childhood was spent cutting and collecting wood from the nearby hills, hauling them up by herself, and fetching water from nearby ponds in milk powder cans.

The 2017 world champion had initially wanted to be an archer but fate had different plans, and reading about fellow Manipuri the legendary N.Kunjarani Devi's exploits in the weightlifting arena all over the world, inspired Chanu to take up the sport.

RAVI DAHIYA: SILVER

India's Ravi Dahiya holds his silver medal during the medal ceremony at Tokyo Olympic 2020.
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India's Ravi Dahiya holds his silver medal during the medal ceremony at Tokyo Olympic 2020.

The 23-year-grappler born in the Nahri village of the Sonepat district in Haryana stormed to the final of the men's 57kg freestyle event without any fuss. Although, he fetched a silver, his immense strength and stamina along with technical prowess impressed one and all.

Born to a farming family, Dahiya had been trained at national capital's Chhatrasal Stadium, which has already given India two Olympic medallists -- Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt.

He rose to prominence only when he qualified for the Tokyo Games with a bronze medal-winning effort at the 2019 world championship. He has steadily gown in stature ever since, winning the Asian Championship in 2020 and then defending the title this year.

His father, Rakesh Kumar, would himself carry milk and butter to Chhatrasal Stadium, about 60km away from his home, every single day without fail to ensure that his son got the best diet.

PV SINDHU: BRONZE

Bronze medalist in Tokyo Olympics 2020, Badminton player PV Sindhu
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Bronze medalist in Tokyo Olympics 2020, Badminton player PV Sindhu (PTI)

PV Sindhu etched her name among the all-time greats after winning women's singles bronze medal to add to the silver she won at Rio de Janeiro five years back. The 26-year-old became the first Indian woman and second overall from the country to achieve the feat.

Such was her dominance at the Tokyo Games that she dropped only two games, both in the semifinal loss to Tai Tzu Ying, in six matches.

The Hyderabad shuttler rose to fame at the international level in 2014 when she won bronze medals in the world championship, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Championships.

MEN'S HOCKEY TEAM: BRONZE

Indian Men's Hockey team at Tokyo Olympics 2020, in Tokyo on Tuesday.
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Indian Men's Hockey team at Tokyo Olympics 2020, in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Four decades of pain and disappointment was washed away as the Indian men's hockey team clinched the bronze, the country's 12th Olympic medal in the sport that came after a gap of 41 years.

After the initial hiccup which saw the team being steam-rolled 1-7 by Australia in their second game, Manpreet Singh and his men made a strong comeback only losing to eventual champions Belgium.

While Manpreet inspired the team with his leadership, goalkeeper PR Sreejesh had a phenomenal tournament, standing like a wall when the opposition mounted an attack.

It seemed the team was destined to win. How else could one explain the addition of Simranjeet Singh, who scored a brace in the crucial bronze playoff, when he wasn't even a part of the original squad and had been added following the International Olympic Committee's decision to allow "alternate athletes" in team events because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LOVLINA BORGOHAIN: BRONZE

Tokyo 2020 Olympics : Boxing Women's Welterweight Lovlina Borgohain
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Tokyo 2020 Olympics : Boxing Women's Welterweight Lovlina Borgohain (REUTERS)

Competing in her maiden Olympics, Borgohain carved a niche for herself in the history of Indian women's boxing by clinching a bronze -- India's lone boxing medal at the Tokyo Games.

The 23-year-old, who was brought up in Baro Mukhia village of Assam's Golaghat district, used to be a kickboxer, like her two elder sisters, before she turned to boxing.

A day before she was to leave with the Olympic-bound boxers group for a training camp to Europe, Borgohain had contracted COVID-19. But the missed opportunity couldn't stop her from having a remarkable campaign in which she upstaged former world champion Nien-Chin Chen of Chinese Taipei in the 69kg category.

She became only the third Indian boxer ever, after Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom, to finish on the podium at the quadrennial showpiece.

BAJRANG PUNIA: BRONZE

Bajrang Punia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in Japan,
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Bajrang Punia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in Japan, (PTI)

Bajrang Punia won the bronze medal on Olympic debut after outwitting Daulet Niyazbekov in the men's freestyle 65kg play-off at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

The 27-year-old has been passionate about wrestling since childhood. As a kid all he wanted was to wrestle. Once at a Dangal, when he was about 34kg, Bajrang insisted that he be allowed to wrestle but the competition was meant for those who weighed about 60kg and to the amazement of everyone, he pinned his opponent, giving a glimpse of his determination.

Those who were so close yet so far:

WOMEN'S HOCKEY TEAM

Indian Women's Hockey team
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Indian Women's Hockey team

From a bottom-place finish at Rio 2016, the Indian women's team capped a remarkable journey at Tokyo Olympics, finishing a creditable fourth.

Although the team's dream of securing its maiden Olympic medal remained unfulfilled as it lost 3-4 to Great Britain in the closely contested bronze medal play-off, the side recorded its best ever finish at the Games.

With the odds stacked firmly against them a brave and determined women's team etched its name in the history books by entering its maiden Olympic semifinals.

DEEPAK PUNIA

Deepak Punia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
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Deepak Punia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (PTI)

After an impressive campaign that saw him race to the semifinals, Deepak Punia was only 10 seconds away from a medal, but the 22-year-old debutant ended up conceding a take-down in the 86kg freestyle bronze medal play-off.

Wrestling was just a route that Deepak hoped would find him a good job to help sustain his family. He was offered the post of a sepoy in the Indian Army back in 2016 but was told to dream big and not settle for little things.

He took the advice of two-time Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar seriously and has gradually made his mark. He became a World Cadet champion in 2016 and in 2019 won the junior World title, only the fourth Indian ever to do so.

ADITI ASHOK

Aditi Ashok plays a shot on the fairway during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
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Aditi Ashok plays a shot on the fairway during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (AFP)

Ranked 200 in the world, Aditi Ashok from Bengaluru competed toe-to-toe against the best golfers in the world. But, alas it wasn't meant to be as after coming agonisingly close, Aditi finished fourth.

Aditi started playing golf at the age of five. At the Rio Olympics, where she finished 41st, Aditi was the youngest player.

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