How many times has Mary Kom won
The 11 most famous Indian athletes
In a country obsessed with one sport, cricket, the accomplishments of those who play other games are often ignored. But apart from world-class cricketers, India has produced some of the best athletes in every sport, from hockey to tennis and wrestling. These people deserve recognition not only to win trophies and medals for the country, but also to popularize sports that are often overshadowed by cricket. Here are the most famous Indian athletes that you should know.
With so much frenzy surrounding cricket, it's hard to guess that hockey is India's national sport. There was a time when India ruled the international hockey circuit and Dhyan Chand was at the center of all those triumphs. He helped India win three Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. Dhyan Chand, also known as the "magician" for his exceptional scoring skills, is still considered to be the best athlete to ever play the game.
Milkha Singh, also known as the "Flying Sikh", is the most famous Indian sprinter and one of the country's first sports icons. Singh was the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games. He won the top prize in the 400 meter competition in 1958. Singh was separated from his family and orphaned in 1947 during the partition of India and Pakistan. During his tenure, he had few resources to assert himself as an athlete, which makes Singh's achievements even more admirable. It is said that he was disaffected with life and considered becoming a Dacot, but instead joined the Indian army and brought laurels to the country.
The most popular athlete India has ever seen is called "Little Master". Though short in stature and softly spoken on the cricket field, Sachin Tendulkar was a force to be reckoned with. No other cricketer has held as many batting records as he has. Tendulkar has not only earned the admiration of his fans, but also the respect of his colleagues. He stepped into the limelight at the age of 16, and for millions of Indians, Tendulkar is not just a hero, he's almost a messiah.
Mithali Raj is the captain of the Indian women's cricket team. In a country where women’s cricket has few players, Raj has shown a steadfast commitment to the game against all odds. She is the top scorer in international women's cricket and the only female cricketer to have scored more than 6,000 runs in one-day national teams. Raj led the Indian team to the final of the Women's Cricket World Cup in England that year. Despite losing to the host country, Raj and her team's performance made the nation sit up and take notice.
Viswanathan Anand, or Vishy as he is called, is not only the greatest chess player in India, but is also considered to be one of the best in the world. He became India's first chess grandmaster when he was barely 20 years old. In a hard-fought battle, the five-time world champion in 2013 lost his crown to the Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen. Anand is the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India's highest sports honor.
Mary Kom is the most famous Indian female boxer. Coming from the northeastern state of Manipur, Kom is a five-time world amateur boxing champion. She won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics and a gold medal in the Asian Boxing Championship. Coming from a humble background, Kom has become an inspiration to aspiring female athletes across the country. In 2014, actress Priyanka Chopra played the boxer in a Bollywood film based on her life.
Before Sania Mirza there were a handful of famous tennis players from India like Vijay Amritraj, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati. But no woman had ever made a name for herself in sports until Mirza stepped on the scene. She reached the world rankings in the women's doubles category when she was paired with tennis great Martina Hingis. Mirza has won numerous Grand Slam titles in doubles and mixed doubles and is one of the highest paid female athletes in India.
In 2015, Saina Nehwal became the only Indian badminton player to reach the world rankings. In fact, she is only the second Indian to have achieved this feat. Prakash Padukone took first place in 1980. She has won over 21 international titles and a bronze medal at the Olympics. Nehwal is responsible for popularizing badminton in the country.
Pankaj Advani is an 18-time World Billiards and Snooker Champion. He won his first world title at the age of 18. He is the only person in the history of the game to have won both the IBSF Billiards and Snooker World Championships and the World Professional Billiards Championship. While it is difficult to master just one format of the game, Advani has specialized in both billiards and snooker and has done it with flying colors.
Sakshi Malik made history at the 2016 Rio Olympics and became the first Indian female wrestler to win an Olympic medal, the bronze medal in the 58kg category. Professional wrestlers, like Malik and sisters Geeta and Babita Phogat, deserve credit for not only having the courage to get into an exclusively male-dominated sport (at least in India), but for making the country proud of medals at sporting events like win the Olympics and the Olympics Commonwealth Games.
Abhinav Bindra is the first Indian individual athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games. He won the 10-meter air rifle event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. India hadn't won a gold medal since the men's hockey team won first prize in the 1980 Olympics. Bindra is also a former World Shooting Champion and gold medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. His career as a player began early when Bindra became the youngest participant in the 1998 Commonwealth Games at age 15.
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