India is hoping London 2012 will bring even more success than the 2008 Beijing Games, which saw its best ever Olympic performance with three medals in different sports and also winning its first individual gold medal.
Here are seven ways in which a strong Indian influence is leaving its mark on London 2012:
1. India’s historic sporting legacy – India first participated at the Paris Olympic Games in 1900, when Anglo-Indian athlete Norman Pritchard won two silver medals in athletics for the 200m and 200m hurdles. Pritchard was of British descent and moved to England permanently in 1905.
2. Going for gold: India aims to top past sporting success – this year, India is fielding its largest ever number of athletes. The 2008 Olympics were the best ever for India with bronze medals for Vijender Singh for boxing and Sushil Kumar for wrestling. The first individual Olympic gold medal was won by Abhinay Bindra for shooting.
3. Reaching for the sky: Olympic Park landmark – the Orbit sculpture and new visitor attraction in the Olympic Park was designed by the award-winning, London-based Indian artist Anish Kapoor. Standing at 115m, it is 22m taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty and offers unparalleled views of the 250 acres of the Olympic Park from a special viewing platform. The stunning £19.6million artwork will ensure the Park remains an unrivalled visitor destination following the 2012 Games.
4. International Inspiration Programme recognises Indian teenager – a 19-year-old from North East India was one of 20 young people given the chance to carry the Olympic Flame in recognition of her dedication and commitment to inspiring children and young people through the power of sport, or for personal challenges they have overcome. Pinky runs sports sessions at her school encouraging her community to participate actively in sport and teaching how sport can play a vital role in a child’s educational and social development.
5. India is at the heart of unprecedented Games-time cultural celebrations – the London 2012 Festival will bring together some of the world’s most exciting artists showcasing the best of international culture, to match the sporting talent on display at the London 2012 Games.
It includes: internationally acclaimed artist Shezad Dawood, using his Indian and Pakistani roots to inspire works across media in film, painting and light sculpture at two venues in Penzance; Indian poet Tishani Doshi joining the largest poetry festival ever staged at London’s Southbank Centre; Indian- based artist Sarnath Banerjee appearing on billboards, posters and local newspapers across the six Olympic boroughs, depicting the shared history of competitive sport; and a Bollywood dance troupe attempting the largest ever Bollywood dance in Cardiff to beat the current record set in Mumbai for 1,336 participants
6. Olympic torchbearers celebrated for their work in India – Ammal Uppal, 21, of Wolverhampton, was chosen for his tireless work for charitable and environmental causes. Despite suffering ITB, a pain and inflammation of the knee, he took part in Challenge England – a 650-mile walk from Penzance to Berwick-upon-Tweed in 25 days – to raise £10,000 for the slums of India.
Indian-born Kistiah Ramaya, 69, deputy mayor of Lampeter, has been involved in many community roles since moving to Wales in 1979. As a Rotarian he recently visited India to vaccinate the under 5s with polio drops.
7. Partners in business – India is the third largest investor in the UK and its companies are playing an increasingly important role in the UK economy. Tata, owner of Jaguar Land Rover and Corus Steel, is the single largest, employing 47,000 people in manufacturing in the UK.