Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Track, field

Because today is the 120th anniversary of the modern Olympic games, here is a picture of a Chennai landmark that was instrumental in the birth of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). Although India did not feature in the 1896 games at Athens, there was an 'Indian' who participated in the 1900 games in Paris. And then, for a generation, the Olympic games were of no consequence to the natives of India. It was in 1920 that Sir Dorabji Tata rushed in a team to the Olympic games at Antwerp - four athletes and two wrestlers. Thanks to that effort, Sir Dorabji was inducted into the International Olympic Committee. As a member of the IOC, Sir Dorabji made sure the selections for the 1924 Paris Olympic games were properly conducted, through the first Inter-State Athletic Meet at Delhi. 

The technical inputs for conducting the events was provided by Dr.A.G.Noehren who was then the Director of the YMCA. Thanks to the YMCA's School of Physical Education in Madras, Dr. Noehren knew what went into selecting athletes. The 1924 team had 8 athletes - and three of them were from Madras. It is likely that all of them trained at the Y's School of Physical Education, which has since become the College of Physical Education, with its campus at Nandanam.

The Chennai connection with the Olympics continues. One of the medal winners at the 2012 London games  - Gagan Narang - was born in Chennai, though he was a Hyderabad resident when he won the medal. Interestingly, the current President of the IOA, N. Ramachandran, is a Chennai resident. Maybe this year's Olympic games in Rio will see some medals coming to this city!


Ben Christopher said...

All your post are good, however,do you know India Played foot ball in Olympics, One of my Cousin who is an Olympian. Just check Simon Sunderaj in Google. There are still 7 alive who played football in olimics and won the medal still in the city and elsewhere in tamilnadu. Ben

Shantaram said...

Hello Ben, Thanks for the comment. Yes, I knew that India did play - 1956 Melbourne, if I remember right. But my recollection is that we finished fourth. Would be lovely to connect with your cousin - last month, I had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion with Mr. V. Bhaskaran, the gold-medal winning hockey captain; would be great if I could meet another Olympian so soon after :)