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From Rugby To Karate: 10 Olympic Sports India Has No Participation In

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Considering the 122-year -long Olympic history and India’s baffling 1.3 billion population, it’s difficult to comprehend the country’s poor show in the games. In total India managed a meager 35 medals in 18 disciplines. Tokyo 2021 Olympics saw India collect its highest medal tally at 7. Can India satisfy the desires of a booming country with 7 medals?

It is important to know that we have greatly improved our medal tally over the years. Yet there remains a wide spectrum of sporting disciplines in which the country is yet to attain an Olympic berth.

Let’s walk through 10 Olympic sporting disciplines that India didn’t qualify yet

1. Rugby

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Although the game traces back to the first few matches played in India in 1871, rugby in India is still a minor sport, waiting to be embraced by sports enthusiasts. 2016 Olympics witnessed the replacement of 15- a-side rugby with rugby sevens which is relatively new to the country. India in its nascent stage tasted victory at the 2019 Asia Rugby Sevens Trophy which was a qualification event for the Asian Rugby Sevens Series that in turn paved the way for the Tokyo Olympics qualification.

However, they were unable to qualify for the Asian Rugby Sevens Series at the Tokyo Olympics.

2. Taekwondo

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 The sport was first introduced in India in 1975, and the Taekwondo Federation of India (TFI) was formed and established as a National Body of Taekwondo in India on 2 August 1976. It’s interesting to know that Taekwondo was introduced into the Olympics as a sport as recently as 2000 at the Sydney Games. The sport has been growing steadily in the country, the latest feat being India’s outstanding performance in the 2019 South Asian Games in Kathmandu winning as many as 9 medals in different categories.

3. Modern Pentathlon

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An important discipline in the Olympics since 1912, Not many in the country are aware of this sport.The Modern Pentathlon Federation of India(MPFI) was formed in 2009 by former Kabaddi player Namdev Shirgaonkar. The modern pentathlon consists of fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, pistol shooting, and cross country running. The sport is yet to shine among the youth, ailing from underfunding and poor infrastructure.

4. Triathlon

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This is a sport of endurance, stamina, and speed. Triathlon made a grand entry in the Syndey Olympics in 2000. Since then over 600 seasoned athletes competed for over 4 editions of the Games, for their dream gold medal. But of those 600 athletes, none of them have come from India. Owing to a lack of funding, training resources, and the absence of a National coach, triathlon athletes are facing the brunt that can potentially halt their hard-earned careers. One of them is Pooja Chaurushi, who in the hopes of an Olympic berth, relocated to the United States to train under Coach Boris.

5. Karate

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Once a hobby for youngsters in India, Now an official Olympic sport! karate has come a long way. Karate made a full Olympic appearance in Tokyo Olympics. Two disciplines were featured: Kumite and Kata, a solo discipline for both men and women.

“Karate was included in the Olympics for the first time in 2020 but the Indian team did not participate in it. I shall definitely participate in the next Olympics in 2024 in the game of karate. I am also planning to participate in the Asian Games scheduled later this year in China if everything goes well,” said Ananya Anand, a potential Olympic athlete hailing from Patna.

6. Skateboarding

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Despite being a new sport in the country, it has carved a niche for itself in the alternate sports universe. The first instance of its emergence in the Indian market and the build-up to establishing skateboarding as a full-fledged sport in India can be traced back to 2006 with British skater Nick Smith deciding to take a chance by building the first fully-established skate park in Goa called “Sk8 Bowl” – rest is history. Skateboarding was recently included as a sporting discipline in the Tokyo Olympics and it’s not far until we cheer on our first skateboarding crew for the Summer Games.

7. Volleyball

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Indians love volleyball. It’s’s beautiful. The Volleyball Federation of India was formed in 1951, 13 years before volleyball became an Olympic sport in the Tokyo 1964 Games. India was excited to join the qualifying ranks at the Tokyo Olympics after winning the gold medal in both the men,s and women,s categories at the 2019 south Asian games. India, however, crashed out of the Tokyo Olympic Asian qualification after a losing streak with Qatar and Korea.

8. Handball

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Handball officially made its debut at the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi and since then, there’s no looking back.  The Handball Federation of India was established by Jagat Singh Lohan during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. The national handball team’s recent feats have been a silver medal for the men’s team and a gold medal for the women’s team at the 2019 South Asian Games after a long time. The Indian junior women’s handball team in 2022 created history by qualifying for the Junior World Championships for the first time ever. However, they’re yet to secure a berth at the Olympics

9. Ice-hockey

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Considering India’s tropical climate, ice hockey might seem like a distant dream. But things are changing as the sport is being encouraged and played in Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir in North India. It was first played in the Olympics as early as 1920 before being permanently shifted to The Winter Olympics in 1924. Although India lacks the infrastructure and resources to revive the sport, there have been baby steps, playing in the Challenge Cup of Asia, a regional tournament for lower-tier hockey nations in Asia.

10. Sport Climbing

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During the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016, the International Olympic Committee added Sport Climbing to the program of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 40 athletes comprising 20 men and 20 women athletes, competed against each other at the Tokyo Summer Games held in 2021. This discipline offers athletes to compete in three formats: Boulder, Lead, and Speed in one event. Far from being a mainstream sport in India, hopefully, things will take a better turn in the coming years with better training facilities and athletes taking a leap of faith in this new domain.


No other sporting event ( Excusing the ICC World Cup) could gather the focus and aspirations of a country as a whole. Though we still consider Cricket as the holy grail in Indian Sports, adequate funding in alternate sporting disciplines would allow the young and old alike to embrace and accept the ever-changing sporting culture globally.


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