Who was the oldest athlete to win the 100m Olympic Gold?” the friend asked.
“Allen Wells from the United Kingdom was the oldest athlete to win the 100m Olympic Gold. He was 28 years old at that. He continued to win world titles even in his 30s. He was also the last white to win an Olympic gold. This was at the Moscow Olympics of 1980, where he beat the favourite, Silvio Leonard of Cuba. They stopped the clock precisely at 10.25 seconds but Allen Wells was given the first place after examining the photo finish. Allen Wells established his domination by winning the 200m at the same Olympics,” dad said.
“That victory came about as USA boycotted Moscow Olympics. Otherwise, American athletes would have surely won,” the friend remarked.
“Allen Wells beat all American athletes including Carl Lewis and the Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson. The youngest athlete ever to win the 100m at an Olympic was Reggie Walker of South Africa — this was in 1908 at the first Olympics in London. He also equalled the world record at 10.8 seconds. He was trained by Sam Mussabini, the same man who trained Harold Abrahams, who won the 100m sprint in the 1924 Paris Olympics. This character was portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire,” mom said.
“That (1924) was the first Olympics in which Indian athletes participated. The team trained at YMCA College of Physical Education, Chennai, under the watchful eyes of Harry Crowe Buck, the founder principal, who was the manager and coach of the Indian team and the official starter at the Olympics,” dad added.
“Dorab Tata had earlier started an Indian Olympic Association and sponsored the Indian Team to 1920 Olympics at Antwerp, Belgium. Three runners took part. However, the first official Indian representation happened in 1924 where 31-year-old N Polley and 45-year-old Mehri Dorab Tata (wife of Dorab Tata, who was known to have played tennis in a saree, participated,” mom said.
“The Indian Hockey team participated for first time in the 1928 Olympics, at Amsterdam, Netherlands. We beat the host nation at the final for 3-0. All the goals were scored by Dhyan Chand in the last five minutes. He had the biggest haul of 15 goals at the tournament,” dad added.
“The Indian Hockey team won eight gold medals in the 20th century. They lost to Pakistan at the 1960-Rome Olympics. India again won in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and another at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. The next gold medal took 28 years. Abinav Bhindra broke the spell with gold in the 10m air rifle contest at the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” mom said.
“The Indian Hockey team was called the British Indian Hockey team from 1928 to 1936, as Great Britain refused India, a colony under its control, to participate individually. In the 1948-London Olympics, independent India beat Great Britain in the hockey final to win its first gold medal,” dad said.
“What about Milkha Singh and PT Usha?” the friend asked.
“The Flying Sikh missed a bronze in spite of breaking the World Record in the 400m at the Rome Olympics. PT Usha lost the bronze by a 1/100 of a second at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The bronze medals came from Leander Paes and Karnam Malleshwari at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics,” moms said.
“That was the first individual event bronze for India, wasn’t it?” the friend enquired.
“KD Jadav wrestled for India to win a bronze at Helsinki Olympics in 1952. His college principal mortgaged his own house to generate funds and send Jadav to the Olympics,” mom said.
“The Indian Olympic team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London could make the richest haul of medals ever. The tricolour must be hoisted at the Olympic venues as many times and the National Anthem sung with tears rolling down our eyes and joy
overwhelming our hearts. Jai Hind!” dad concluded.