10 Indian athletes whose greatest achievements need to be highlighted
While the entire nation celebrated Raksha Bandhan yesterday, the fact that August 29th is also our National Sports Day seems to have been unfortunately relegated to the backseat. However, with many astounding feats over the past years, India’s athletes deserve to get their due especially on this day.Here are India’s top 10 athletes whose achievements need to be highlighted just after this occasion.
#10 Saina Nehwal
No mention of contemporary Indian sportspersons and their achievements is complete without the name of this young gun from Hyderabad. Saina Nehwal made India proud when she recently regained her World No 1 ranking in the Badminton World Federation Womens Singles list, something only one other Indian player had managed earlier (Prakash Padukone).
Her biggest achievements include a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, winning the Indonesia Open in 2009 and bagging the World Junior Badminton Championship title. Recently she won the 2015 India Open Grand Prix and bagged the silver at the World Badminton Championships in Jakarta, becoming the first Indian women to achieve the latter.
Nehwal is known as one among the few key players from across the globe who managed to successfully break the Chinese monopoly over this sport and continues to be an inspiration for young girls everywhere. She has been awarded the Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri for her contribution to sports.
#9 Abhinav Bindra
With a killer aim, Bindra hit bullseye for the shooting fraternity of India when he bagged the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the 10m air rifle event; becoming the first ever Indian to clinch a coveted Olympic Gold in an individual event. All of India’s pervious Olympic Gold medals came from Hockey, a team sport; and in that too, the last gold came way back in the year 1980.
His career graph started peaking at 2001 when he won six medals at various international tournaments, including a bronze at the 2011 Munich World Cup. He then went on to become the youngest player in the entire Indian contingent at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. After battling a serious back injury, he came back with a bang, winning gold at the 2006 ISSF World Shooting Championships. This win helped him book his berth at the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he created history. His awards inlcude the Rajiv gandhi khel Ratna, arjuna award and Padma Bhushan.
#8 Viswanathan Anand
Chess may not be the first thing that comes to one’s mind when thinking of the word “sports”. However, it definitely is a legitimate sport and one in which India has been proudly garnering several major titles and recognitions, all thanks to one person, Viswanathan Anand.
Fondly called “Vishy”, his biggest achievement in his chess career so far has been holding the FIDE World Chess Championship title from 2000-2002 and again from 2007 to 2013. Becoming India's first ever grandmaster in 1988, Anand was placed at the very top of the FIDE Rating list, making his run on the number one the sixth longest one on record.
He has been given the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award and the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first Indian sportsperson to receive the latter.
#7 Mary Kom
Displaying a fabulous reserve of strength, courage and determination, M C Mary Kom from Manipur went on to create history by becoming the only woman boxer to ever win a medal in each of the 6 major championships across the world.
Fondly named “Magnificent Mary” for her amazing skill, Mary Kom went on to clinch a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, becoming the first ever female Indian boxer to reach that stage and finish on the podium. She then powered on to clinch the gold at the 2014 Asian games in Incheon, South Korea. Due to her skillful performance, she managed to inch up to Rank 4 in the AIBA World Women’s Ranking Flyweight Category.
Recipient of several awards such as Padma Bhushan, Arjuna Award, Khel Ratna and Padma Shree, Mary Kom has recently ventured into coaching and will be the brand ambassador for the new Super Fight League in India. Her story was captured in the hit film, “Mary Kom” where her character was played by actress Priyanka Chopra.
#6 Sushil Kumar
A champion wrestler par excellence, Sushil Kumar is a pivotal name among those who have succeeded in bringing back India to it’s glory days in the field of wrestling. Kumar comes from humble roots, born in a small village near Delhi to a father who was a bus driver. However, with true focus and grit, he went on to forge a sparkling career in international sports.
Among his achievements, which are many, the ones that stand out are gold medal in the 66 kg freestyle category at the 2010 FILA World Wrestling Championships, silver at the 2012 London Olympics, gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. With the bronze in Beijing, Kumar became the second wrestler from India after K D Jadhav to bag a medal in the sport at the Olympics.
Kumar has been conferred the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for his contribution to the sport. His other achievements include leading the Indian contingent at the London Olympics, bearing the tricolor at the opening ceremony and being the final baton bearer for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
#5 Milkha Singh
This name needs no introduction to preceed or succeed it. India’s “Flying Sikh”, as he is famously remembered, set the athletic track ablaze back in the 1950s and 60s. He not only set new national records in the 200m and 400m events, he even went on to break an Olympic record at the 1960 Olympic Games, finishing with a time of 45.73 seconds. However, three other runners too broke the same record in the very same race and by slightly higher margins, causing SIngh to place fourth and narrowly miss out on a coveted medal.
He did win gold at the Commonwealth Games in 1958 for the 400m (then 440 yards) event and also at two separate Asian Games in the 400m, 200m and 4x100 relay events.
#4 P T Usha
Be it “queen of Indian track and field” or “Payyoli express”, her fond monickers do not do justice to all of her achievements as they are so many in number and magnitude. Starting her carrer way back in 1979, P T Usha went on to become the idol for women’s track and field events in India, seeting several national records and winning a total of 101 international medals in events like 100m, 200m and 400m hurdles.
Despite all her gold and silver medals at various Asiads and Asian Track and Field Championships, her career’s most remebered race is still the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics which ended in a close photo finish and she narrowly missed out on a medal, finishing fourth by 1/100th of a second.
A proud recepient of both the Padma Shri and the prestigious Arjuna Award, P T Usha still is a role model for Indian athletes across the country.
#3 Lalita Babar
Coming to the contemporary sportspersons of India, Lalita Babar is a very important name as she is the current national record holder for the 3000m steeplechase event, breaking Sudha Singh’s earlier record. Starting off as a long distance runner, Babar switched to steeplechase in 2014, desiring to dabble in multidiscipline events. She bagged the bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and went on to clinch gold at the 2015 Asian Championships.
At the current World Championships ongoing in Beijing, Babar broke her own record, clocking a time of 9.27.86 and setting a new national record. She finished in 8th in the final and has already qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics to be held in Rio de Janerio
#2 Khashaba Dadasaheb Jadhav
Winning the first ever individualOlympic medal for India all the way back in 1952, K D Jadhav, a prolific wrestler of his time became etched in history. At the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Jadhav won the bronze medal in the wrestling discipline, making India proud. Prior to this, Indias Olympic medals had come only from a team sport, hockey.
Coming from a humble background, Jadhav was born in a village in Satara district of Maharashtra where his father was a local wrestling coach. He was introduced to the sport by him at the tender age of five, after which there was no looking back for him. Jadhav finished 6that the 1948 London Olympics, which was a feat in itself at the time. But he was not satisifed with just that, and worked even harder to have a podium finish at the next games.
A wrestling venuein New Delhis Indira Gandhi sports complex has been named after him, in his honour. Reports suggested that a film titled Pocket Dynamo, as he was fondly called, is in the pipeline.
#1 Dhyan Chand
It is on his birthday that India celebrates National Sports Day, and yesterday was his 110th birth anniversary. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has paid respects to this great legend from the sporting world.
Nicknamed “The wizard” for his magical goal scoring abilties, Dhyan Chand is by far the most successful field hockey player to every arise from India. He successfully managed to help the Indian team win gold at three consecutive Summer Olympic games, namely the 1928 Amsterdamn Games, 1932 Los Angeles Games and the 1936 Berlin Games. Chand scored crucial goals in all his matches and was later named captain of the team too.
Apart from winning the Olympic gold, Chand also led the team to several titles in various international tournaments. Chand is now immortalized with several hockey stadiums across the country named after him and a famous staute of his stands in Jhansi.