19 Gold Medal Reads to Get You Ready for the Indian Olympic 2024 Campaign

Indian Olympic 2024
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The Olympic season is here! As the anticipation around the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign rises in tempo, what better way to immerse yourself in the season than to read the best sports books? We’ve compiled the best of Indian sports literature in this article, with stories from varying games, from boxing to sprinting, to read before the Indian Olympic 2024 chapter unfolds. If you think we’ve missed a title in our compilation, comment below and let us know! Ready? On your mark, get, set, go!

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Books to Read Before the Indian Olympic 2024 Campaign

The Prodigal Sprinter

Title: The Prodigal Sprinter

Author: Amrith Gopinath

Publisher: Purple Pencil Project

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Our first selection in the list of books to read before the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign is the exciting new book by Amrith Gopinath, The Prodigal Sprinter. It’s the story of Sachin Thomas, whose father wants him to become a successful cricketer, naming his son after the legend. Instead, Sachin discovers a talent for sprinting. With help from his friend Dhruv and some quirky coaches, he breaks several national records. However, challenges lay ahead with his increasing arrogance and fights with the Indian sports system. Set in the exciting world of athletics, this book captures the dreams, failures, and victories of Indian athletes, ending with a thrilling race at the 2024 Olympic Games.

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Playing to Win

Title: Playing to Win

Author: Saina Nehwal

Publisher: Penguin India

Price: 199

Pages: 144

Blurb:

Our next title in the collection of must-read books before the Indian Olympic 2024 expedition is by none other than the first Indian badminton player to win an Olympic medal. She’s also the first female Indian player to become World No. 1 and the only Indian to have won at least one medal in every BWF major individual event.

Playing to Win by Saina Nehwal is her journey from a young girl to a world-class athlete, all the way from her childhood, relationships, and the challenges along the way. The memoir depicts the sacrifices required to climb the sporting peaks, including insights into her daily routine, from her rigorous training to a strict diet. With pictures and badminton tips, this book is a must-read for fans and aspiring athletes alike, depicting how a true champion is made.

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Nation at Play: A History of Sport in India

Title: Nation at Play: A History of Sport in India

Author: Ronojoy Sen

Publisher: Viking

Price: 554

Pages: 424

Blurb:

The third book in our compilation of books to read before the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign explores the Indian sporting journey. From its royal origins to modern-day obsessions, Nation at Play is as comprehensive as it’s nuanced. Showing the cultural and political dimensions of sports under monarchy, colonial rule, and post-independence India, the book analyses why some indigenous sports thrived while others faded to obscurity. He also charts cricket’s transformation from a colonial import to a national passion. The book criticises India’s struggles in international competitions like the Olympics despite its vast population. With insights from popular media and unconventional sources, Sen creates a nuanced picture of how sport reflects and shapes India’s social fabric through centuries.

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The Day I Became a Runner: A Women's History of India through the Lens of Sport

Title: The Day I Became a Runner: A Women's History of India through the Lens of Sport

Author: Sohini Chattopadhyay

Publisher: Fourth Estate India

Price: 421

Pages: 364

Blurb:

The fourth title in our reading list of books before the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign begins uses the stories of 8 athletes to make a point. With stories of women athletes like Ila Mitra and PT Usha, she analyses the lives of women who challenged patriarchy (perhaps more than other sportswomen playing team sports like cricket or tennis), in turn capturing the history of Indian women. More than being sports stories, they’re stories of resilience and spirit, urging you to break the societal barriers and chase your dreams.

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Enter the Dangal: Travels through India's Wrestling Landscape

Title: Enter the Dangal: Travels through India's Wrestling Landscape

Author: Rudraneil Sengupta

Publisher: Harper Sport

Price: 287

Pages: 274

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Wrestling has brought India many Olympic medals over the years. Through this book, Sengupta looks at the roots of the sport through detailed accounts of famous wrestlers, from the Great Gama to Sushil Kumar and the rebellious akharas that breed them. Rudraneil goes all the way back to the royal endorsements of the sport by Chalukya kings and Mughal emperors to its depiction in Hindu epics. It also looks at its uncelebrated resistance against the caste system and British colonialism. It’s a story of the human spirit and the modern comeback of an ancient sport, making it a must-read before the campaign!

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Barefoot to Boots: The Many Lives of Indian Football

Title: Barefoot to Boots: The Many Lives of Indian Football

Author: Novy Kapadia

Publisher: Penguin Random House India

Price: 339

Pages: 348

Blurb:

With match descriptions, vivid anecdotes, and exclusive interviews, Novy Kapadia covers over 50 years of Indian football journey. From once being called the “Brazil of Asia” to the fierce rivalries of East Bengal and Mohun Baga, the book depicts the rich heritage of the sport in the nation. It also analyses the future of the sport in an Indian context, particularly with the rise of the Indian Super League and India hosting the FIFA U-17 World Cup. When reading books before the Indian Olympic 2024 journey, such titles are important as they indicate where the country might stand in the Olympics in the years to come.

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Dreams of a Billion: India and the Olympics Story

Title: Dreams of a Billion: India and the Olympics Story

Author: Boria Majumdar

Publisher: HarperSport

Price: 382

Pages: 352

Blurb:

Written just before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the book remains just as relevant before the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign begins. Why does a nation with over a billion people achieve so little on the grand sports stage? It’s a question that’s asked every four years, and it’s a question the book analyses as well. With an insider view of India’s Olympic preparations along with an investigation of past performances and future hopes, the book is a comprehensive study of the Indian Olympic journey.

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Go!: India's Sporting Transformation

Title: Go!: India's Sporting Transformation

Author: Nandan Kamath and Aparna Ravichandran (editors)

Publisher: Penguin Ebury Press

Price: 209

Pages: 312

Blurb:

Regardless of how the Indian Olympic 2024 journey goes, the Indian sports landscape is undoubtedly evolving. But how? Go! is a study of just that. With essays by top athletes, sports writers, and related professionals, the book observes the rising sports culture in India, whether badminton or gymnastics. With increasing homegrown leagues and global talent competing with local, Indian athletes are getting exposure like never before. It reflects a broader shift in the national identity and aspirations and creates an optimistic image for the times to come.

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Unbreakable

Title: Unbreakable

Author: Mary Kom

Publisher: Harper

Price: 199

Pages: 180

Blurb:

From being the only boxer to win eight World Championship medals to the only female boxer to have won a medal in each of the first seven World Championships, Mary Kom has an illustrious career. But the journey to the top was never easy. Unbreakable is the story of that journey. From being a farmer’s daughter to disrupting her career due to marriage, Kom candidly shares her struggles and triumphs. Proving a mettle in a sport where women are rarely acknowledged, especially in a country like India, was never easy, and yet, she persevered and won. This story of patience and mental strength is a must-read before the Indian Olympic 2024 journey.

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Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder

Title: Dipa Karmakar: The Small Wonder

Author: Bishweshwar Nandi, Digvijay Singh Deo, and Vimal Mohan

Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing

Price: 379

Pages: 272

Blurb:

A major contender in the Indian Olympic 2024 team, Dipa Karmakar hasn’t looked back after grabbing the headlines during the 2016 Rio Olympics, narrowly missing a medal but winning everyone’s admiration. The first Indian female Olympic gymnast, Karmakar brought the national spotlight to gymnastics. The book charts her rise from Tripura to receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and her story of grit and determination against all odds.

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Shuttling to the Top: The Story of P.V. Sindhu

Title: Shuttling to the Top: The Story of P.V. Sindhu

Author: Krishnaswamy V

Publisher: HarperSport

Price: 308

Pages: 220

Blurb:

Despite coming from a family of volleyball players, PV Sindhu grew up idolising the Indian badminton star, Pullela Gopichand. As another important part of the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign, all eyes will again be on Sindhu as she shuttles to the top. Krishnaswamy V’s book charts her journey from a child who would travel over 40 km every day, from Secundarabad to Gopichand’s academy, to the first Indian to win an Olympic silver in Badminton. It captures her rise to international fame along with the challenges she faced through her voyage.

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My Olympic Journey: 50 of India's Leading Sportspersons on the Biggest Test of Their Career

Title: My Olympic Journey: 50 of India's Leading Sportspersons on the Biggest Test of Their Career

Author: Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose

Publisher: Penguin Books Limited

Price: 285

Pages: 376

Blurb:

My Olympic Journey by Digvijay Singh Deo and Amit Bose is a collection of first-person accounts from fifty Indian Olympians and the perfect book to read before the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign. Spanning from 1948 to 2012, the book has stories from luminaries like Balbir Singh, Leander Paes, Karnam Malleswari, Abhinav Bindra, Sushil Kumar, Milkha Singh and P.T. Usha. These personal narratives represent their hopes, challenges, and triumphs while giving an emotional glimpse into the lives of those who represented India on the world’s most prestigious stage.

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She Dared: Women in Indian Sports

Title: She Dared: Women in Indian Sports

Author: Abhishek Dubey and Sanjeeb Mukherjea

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Price: 266

Pages: 296

Blurb:

Our thirteenth title in the selection of must-read books before the Indian Olympic 2024 journey chronicles the journey of several women athletes.

While achieving sports glory in India is hard for many with the complex challenges the nation presents, it’s doubly hard for women. And, therefore, books like She Dared are critical for their ability to change the norm, inspire a new generation of women, and change the outlook towards sports of the nation. From legends like Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal to upcoming stars like Hima Das and Manu Bhaker, the book chronicles these lives and struggles. These intimate stories convey the spirit of breaking barriers and redefining set norms, perfect for reading before the Indian Olympic 2024 voyage begins.

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A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold and Beyond

Title: A Shot at History: My Obsessive Journey to Olympic Gold and Beyond

Author: Abhinav Bindra and Rohit Brijnath

Publisher: Harper Sport

Price: 350

Pages: 292

Blurb:

One can count the number of gold medals won by India on their fingers. Remove those won by the hockey side, and you’ll be left with two. So imagine the momentous occasion it would’ve been when Abhinav Bindra grabbed the Olympic Gold at the 2008 Beijing event. A Shot at History is his story. With Rohit Brijnath, he writes about his pursuit of excellence in shooting, leading to the historic Olympic gold. From the crushing disappointment of the Athens 2004 Olympics to the preparations that led to Beijing 2008, Bindra’s story is one of resilience and dedication. The book is a glimpse into Bindra’s mind and the larger significance of that groundbreaking victory.

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The Race of My Life

Title: The Race of My Life

Author: Milkha Singh

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Price: 262

Pages: 160

Blurb:

Let’s look at one of the most illustrious Indian sportspersons of all time in our fifteenth selection of books to read before the Indian Olympic 2024 expedition.

One of the most tragic Indian sports legends is that of Milkha Singh’s Olympic disappointment. The Race of My Life is the story of that extraordinary athlete who survived the horrors of Partition, found his purpose in running, went on to win the first gold for India at the Commonwealth Games, and was honoured as the “Flying Sikh” in Pakistan. His resilience amidst all kinds of challenges is inspiring and a model for all athletes. His simple but ambitious spirit is reflected by his writing and makes for a compelling read before the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign begins with many new hopes.

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Advantage India: The Story of Indian Tennis

Title: Advantage India: The Story of Indian Tennis

Author: Anindya Dutta

Publisher: Westland Sport

Price: 329

Pages: 422

Blurb:

Spanning over a century of Indian tennis history, Advantage India is as exhaustive as it’s gripping. From its colonial origins to the emergence of trailblazers like Ramanathan Krishnan and contemporary stars like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, and Sania Mirza, Dutta charts the evolution of the sport in India. The book focuses on the oft-neglected doubles and women’s tennis for a more comprehensive perspective while celebrating the players who have shaped the Indian tennis legacy. For anyone passionate about the journey of Indian sports and its global footprint, Anindya Dutta’s book is a perfect pick before the Indian Olympic 2024 journey.

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Bhiwani Junction: The Untold Story Of Boxing In India

Title: Bhiwani Junction: The Untold Story Of Boxing In India

Author: Shamya Dasgupta

Publisher: Harper Sport

Price: 385

Pages: 216

Blurb:

Six Indian contenders (four female, two male) would fight for the ultimate sporting glory in the upcoming Indian Olympic 2024 campaign. To understand how the nation reached where it is today, Bhiwani Junction is an excellent read. From Havana to Harlem to Bhiwani, Shamya Dasgupta follows the journey of this sport. It’s a complex sport that has evolved amidst knotty sociopolitical and historical landscapes. While Vijender Singh’s bronze brought the nation’s attention to the sport, this book is not just the story of triumphs, but the history and the untold stories that go behind it. Capturing boxing’s highs and lows, this is a must-read before the Indian Olympic 2024 journey begins.

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The District Cup

Title: The District Cup

Author: Mallika Ravikumar

Publisher: Puffin

Price: 217

Pages: 240

Blurb:

While we prepare ourselves for the Indian Olympic 2024 season, some questions are bound to arise, as always. How does a nation with the largest population poor so dismally at the largest sporting stage? Why does the multifaceted sporting talent not translate to where it matters? While it’s no history or sociology text, Mallika Ravikumar’s book looks at one facet. Welcome to the gritty world of the U-13 Maulsari Eagles, a team battling formidable odds. 

Led by Prithvi, Kadambini, and Coach Siraj, the story contains multitudes, namely familial resistance, gender bias, and systemic corruption. Matching personal struggles with our team’s quest for recognition, the story is one of hope and admiration. If only the fictional solution was as translatable into the real world as the problem it discusses, perhaps we’d have a significantly larger Indian Olympic 2024 team!

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The entire country was taken by shock when the young javelin thrower from the humble village of Khandra grabbed an Olympic gold, a first for any Asian in javelin. At an early age, Chopra was ridiculed for his weight. When, at thirteen, his family started “Operation Neeraj Fitness” by sending him to Shivaji Stadium, he discovered his talent for javelin throwing. Pritam charts the journey of a village boy to a global athlete and the courage and support that fueled his rise. This story is as heartwarming as motivating, as Chopra participates as one of the mainstays of the Indian Olympic 2024 campaign.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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