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75 years of independence: Iconic moments from Indian sports – 1952 India’s first individual Olympic medal

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging greatest sporting achievements by Indian athletes.

Indian wrestler KD Jadhav wins bronze, the country’s first-ever individual Olympic medal.

On July 23, 1952, K.D. Jadhav won a flyweight bronze medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, earning Independent India its first-ever individual Olympic medal.

Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav, a bantamweight who weighed 57 kg, won the bronze medal in freestyle.

In Helsinki, Jadhav competed in the bantamweight division after competing in the flyweight division at the 1948 summer Olympics in London. He easily won each of the first five bouts, finishing each one in under five minutes. Then Japan’s Shohachi Ishii presented a tough test.

It was dubbed the big clash. The bout lasted more than 15 minutes. Jadhav, who was new to the mat and the rules, gave his best but lost by a point. Ishii, a judoka-turned-wrestler, went on to win the gold.

After the lengthy match, Jadhav was called to return to the mat to face Rashid Mammadbeyov of the Soviet Union. The regulations required a minimum 30-minute break between rounds, but no Indian official was on hand to argue that point. Due to his exhaustion, Jadhav was unable to motivate his team, and Mammadbeyov profited from the opportunity to advance to the final.

Even though it was heartbreaking, Jadhav’s performance in Helsinki not only helped independent India win its first individual medal but also established Indian wrestling as a global force.


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