Here are the youngest champions ever to represent their country in the Olympics.
Dimitrios Loundras was a gymnast from Greece. At the age of 10 year and 218 days, Loundras remains the youngest Olympian in the history of Olympics. He represented his country at 1896 Summer Olympics which was held in Athens. He bagged a bronze medal in a team event and became the youngest ever to win an Olympic medal.
Loundras took part in parallel bars event and successfully contributed to winning a medal for his team Ethnikos Gymnastics Syllogos. Although only three teams took part in that particular event, Dimitrios Loundras performed like gold medallist because he was the only youngest ever to win an Olympic medal.
Later on in 1905, Loundras pursued his graduation from Royal Hellenic Navy as an Ensign and became an officer. By serving for various commands as well as a naval attaché, he fought in World War I and retired with a rank of Rear Admiral in 1935. But, when the Greco-Italian war broke out in 1940, He was recalled for his service and finally retired in 1945 as Vice Admiral.
He died at the age of 85 and was the last surviving participant from those games.
Born on September 30, 1981 in Hollywood, California, Dominique Moceanu was a gymnast from the USA and represented her country in 1996 Georgia Olympics. She was just 14 when she grabbed a gold medal. She was the youngest member of women’s gymnastics team known as` The Magnificent Seven’. Despite the injury and heavily bandaged leg, Moceanu bravely managed and contributed in U.S. team to nab the gold and become the youngest athlete to win gold in women’s gymnastics.
Moceanu started her training at the age of 10, from then onwards she never took a back step and headed towards the peak. She won the U.S. Junior National all-round title, silver medal in 1995 World Championships and in the following year her dream came true which changed her life remarkably.
As injuries did not allow her to continue gymnastics, hence she took the retirement from the game and now coaches part-time at Gymnastics World in Broadview Heights, Ohio
Marjorie Gestring was one of the youngest athlete’s to compete in Olympics. She was an American springboard diver who participated at the age of 13 years and 268 days. Bagging medals for a multi-time champion is not a big deal. She won a gold medal in 3-metre springboard diving at 1936 Summer Olympics hosted by Berlin. She also received her second Olympic gold medal by the United States Olympic Committee after 1940 Summer Olympics which was abandoned due to World War II. This is because she deserved it as she was a multi-time national diving champion.
After a successful career, she was introduced to the International Swimming Hall Of Fame in 1976 and at the age of 69, she died due to a fatal accident in her home.
Donna De Varona
Donna De Varona qualified at the age of 13 for U.S. swimming team for the 1960 Olympic Games organized in Rome. She was the youngest player in that game. But unfortunately, she had to return empty handed. But she learned her lesson and worked hard with sheer dedication and in Tokyo Olympics four years later, won two gold medals. She remained a world record holder in many events including the most challenging 400 hundred meters individual medley and 100-metre backstroke.
There is no doubt that individual medley is the most difficult thing to do, but it was De Varona’s favorite as she was always ready for challenges.
Gaurika Singh is a Nepalese swimmer. At 13 years and 255 days, Singh became the youngest athlete to compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Unfortunately, she did not qualify for the semi-finals of 100-metre backstroke as she stood 31st in the rankings but gave an incredible performance in heat 1.
Singh was inclined towards swimming from a very small age and trains in London at Copthall Swimming Club. She is also a goodwill ambassador of the Shanti Education Initiative Nepal.
Youngest Indian Champions
Pillavullakandi Thekkeparambil, popularly known as P. T. Usha is one of the greatest athletes that India has produced. She is the “Queen of Indian Track And Field”. Her talent was first noticed by Mr O. M Nambiar who trained her for the rest of her life. She started racing in the year 1979 and a year later she jumped in Moscow Summer Olympics. At that time, she was just 16 years and 69 days old. However, she was disappointed by her performance when she has ruled out the games in semis.
But later, she won many races and created many records at the Asia level. In 1985, she was awarded Padma Shri and Arjuna Award and made India proud.
Who doesn’t know Abhinav Bindra? He is the ace Indian Rifle Shooter who bagged the gold medal for India in Beijing Olympics. However, Bindra debuted in Sydney Olympics at an early age of 17 and became the youngest participant. Bindra had an interest in shooting from his childhood as his father had installed a shooting range in their home.
Through perseverance and rigorous hard work along with his unwavering dedication, Abhinav Bindra has created his solid position in the world of rifle shooting.
These athletes were successful not just because they were talented but because they worked hard from an early age. India has never enjoyed the kind of success America or China has, for which we blame the system. Although a majority of this failure can be blamed on the system, we are also guilty of spoiling our chances by not giving enough encouragement to sports.
Kids need to be encouraged to pick up a sport. Not every child can be a scientist, doctor or engineer, but he can enjoy the same pride by achieving a Gold Medal for his motherland.
There is no doubt that India has got the talent and potential to bring in scores of medals, but it is up to to the parents, guardians and the teachers to help them achieve their potential.