By encouraging young people to engage in sports such as athletics, and to raise awareness of the importance of fitness, World Athletics Day is celebrated every year in May around the world. This day was first introduced by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 1996. The day is significant for India as we have witnessed exceptional athletes who have achieved achievements and broken records in the international arena. Let’s take a look at some of the sporting gems of India and their educational qualifications.
P. T. Usha
Known for its graceful sprint with long strides, Pilavullakandi Tekkeparambil Usha or P.T. Usha has become synonymous with athletics in India. She excelled at numerous Asian athletics competitions in the 1980s and won 23 medals, 14 of which were gold. She was born in a village in Kerala and studied in nearby Payyoli, so she was given the surname Payyoli Express for her lightning speed.
Milha Singh, dubbed the “flying Sikh”, was one of the best athletes India has witnessed. He won India’s first gold medal in the 440-yard race at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff, Wales, in 1958. Before starting work, Singh tried to enroll in the engineering department of the Indian Army, but managed to do so after three attempts. He later joined the army and began his athletic career these days. Moving to India during the partition, Milha studied in Pakistan.
Anjou Bobby George
A great athlete, Bobby George is the first Indian athlete to win a medal at the World Championships. The two-time Olympian is also India’s national record in the long jump among women. She was born in Kerala and attended CKM Koruthode School. She constantly performed and won a medal in the long jump at the Asian Junior Championships in New Delhi, graduating from Vimal Trisour College in 1996.
Gurbachan Singh Randhava
Gurbachan Singh Randhava, who was born in Amritsar in 1939, has become one of India’s most gifted athletes. He showed his exceptional talent by winning several medals on school days and later became the best athlete of the University of Punjab. He won gold in the decathlon at the 1962 Asian Games in Jakarta. Gurbachan also finished 5th in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, where he was also the flag bearer of the Indian contingent. He is also the first Indian athlete to receive the Arjuna Award.
A professional sprinter, Duti Chand is the first Indian to win gold in the 100-meter dash at a world competition. She received a medal in 2019 at the World Universiade in Naples. Duti became famous when she became the national champion in 2012 in the under-18 category in the 100-meter dash. Born into a poor family in Adish, the Duo attended a local school in their village. She later entered the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) to obtain a law degree.
A young athlete from Osama Hima Das has made history after winning gold in the 400-meter race at the 2018 U20 World Championships in Finland. Dhing Express showed an impressive time of 51.46 seconds. She broke her 400-meter record at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, running 50.79 seconds and winning a silver medal. In 2019, Hima passed the 12th grade exam at the Assam Council.
For a boy with a golden hand, the list of achievements is long. The javelin thrower became the U-16 U12 champion. He won a silver medal at the 2016 Asian Junior Championships, throwing 77.60 meters. But Niraj gained notoriety after his historic victory at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, where he won a gold medal for a throw of 87.58. He graduated from the Ango-Vedic College of Dayananda in Chandigarh and then entered the Outstanding Professional University (LPU) to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
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