History of Indian athletics dates back to the Vedic Period
. Although it is indeed a mystery when exactly athletics in India made its presence felt as a distinct sports form; however it can be said that the well illustrated values of the Atharva Veda
contoured the limn of Indian athletics
In the Vedic age or much later in the period of the Ramayana
, Athletics were typically a common form of sports. Sports like chariot racing, archery
, horsemanship, military tactics, wrestling
, weight lifting, swimming and hunting made their presence felt quite colossally back in that era. Historical evidence unveils that Indian athletics acquired a remarkable dimension, when Buddhism
held sway in India. Many interesting athletic events like archery, horse riding, and chariot-racing were in vogue during that period. Apart from these games, some other games like hiking, walking, and `gulli-danda` also made their presence felt at a later period in ancient India. Almost all these games were defined as a `must` in the military training sessions of the Indian empires, during that period.
With the course of time, the nature and formation of sports in India started to change. During the medieval period in the history of Indian athletics, Indians started playing sports like running, jumping and throwing, etc. Most of these sports were actually ancestors of the track event
and field events
of today`s athletics. All these sports were immensely popular in India, as they were quite capable of improving one`s physical fitness.
Contemporary versions of track and field events began to be played regularly and in organized form in the early years of Indian independence
. Till then, there were a number of phases in the history of Indian Athletics. At the initial period, games were played in grass and cinder tracks, until a gradual shift to synthetic tracks occurred. The later introduction of technology into athletics improved its status further as keeping the record of players` timing became much easier.
Athletics was being played in an unorganised manner in India till Independence and it was in 1946, when Indian athletics started to be managed in an organised manner. The decade of 1940s and 1950s are most notable in the history of Indian athletics, as a number of athletics associations started their journey in India, during that period. In 1946, the Amateur Athletics Federation of India (AAFI) was established for the management of Indian athletics. It worked in collaboration with other athletics associations for improving the entire scenario of Indian athletics.
Indian athletes have made their presence felt in several international tournaments, and India has so far produced a number of successful athletes in the international level. Some of the most successful athletes in the history of Indian athletics include Milkha Singh
, T. C Yohannan, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa
and Sriram Singh
. Some notable contemporary female athletes include P T Usha, Anju Bobby George
, Jyotirmoyee Sikdar
, Saraswati Saha, Soma Biswas