In this article, we will look at the 10 greatest sportspersons of India. We will be covering 10 different sports and pick one greatest sportsperson from each of them.
10) Narain Karthikeyan (Formula 1)
Narain Karthikeyan became the first Formula 1 driver from India, when he debuted in 2005 with the Jordan F1 team in the Australian Grand Prix where he finished 12th. He made a comeback to Formula 1 in 2011 when he raced for HRT F1 team in 2011 and 2012, including racing in the first ever Indian Grand Prix in 2011. His Formula 1 career was cut short as HRT were not included in Formula 1 in 2013. His best performance in Formula 1 was a 4th place finish in United States Grand Prix in 2005.
Besides Formula 1, Narain Karthikeyan’s other achievements came in the A1 Grand Prix, which was a nation based Grand Prix where he represented Team India from 2006-2009 and in 2007-2008 season, he finished 1st in Chinese Grand Prix and Great Britain Grand Prix.
Narain Karthikeyan was awarded the Padma Shri in 2010.
9) Mary Kom (Boxing)
Mary Kom is the only woman to become World Amateur Boxing champion for a record six times, the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships, and the only boxer (male or female) to win eight World Championship medals.
Mary Kom won Gold Medal in 2014 Asian Games and 2018 Commonwealth games. In Olympics her best performance was winning Bronze Medal in 2012 Olympics. In World Champions, she won Gold in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018.
Mary Kom’s highest award is India’s second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan which she won in 2020.
8) Milkha Singh (Athletics)
Milkha Singh, known as the “Flying Sikh”, is a former Indian track and field sprinter.
The race for which Milkha Singh is best remembered is his fourth-place finish in the 400 metres final at the 1960 Olympic Games, where he led the race till the 200m mark before he slowed down which allowed others to pass him. Milkha Singh’s fourth-place time of 45.73 seconds in that race, stood as the Indian national record for almost 40 years.
Milkha Singh won Gold in 1958 Commonwealth Games in 440 Yards, and he won Gold in 1958 Asian Games in both 200 metre and 400 metre, Gold in 1962 Asian Games in 400 metre and 4×400 metre Relay.
Milkha Singh was awarded the Padma Shri in 1959.
7) Abhinav Bindra (Shooting)
Abhinav Bindra is India’s first and only individual Olympics Gold medallist till date, having won Gold medal in 2008 Olympics in the 10 metre Air rifle category.
Other achievements of Abhinav Bindra include winning Gold medals in 2006 World championships and winning 4 consecutive Gold medals in Commonwealth Games in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. All medals coming in the 10 metre Air rifle category.
He won the Padma Bhushan award in 2009.
6) Sushil Kumar (Wrestling)
Sushil Kumar became the only Indian to win 2 individual medals in the Olympics, when he won a Silver medal in the 2012 Olympics in the 66 kg freestyle category, to add to his bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics in the same category.
Sushil Kumar’s other achievements include winning the Gold medal in the 2010 World Championships in 66 kg freestyle category and winning 3 Gold medals in Commonwealth games, in 2010 in the 66 kg freestyle category and then in 2014 and 2018 in the 74 kg freestyle category, and winning 5 Gold medals in the Commonwealth championships.
In 2009, Sushil Kumar was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
5) Vishwanathan Anand (Chess)
Vishwanathan Anand is a 5 time World champion in Chess, winning the title in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012. In 1987, he became the first Indian to win the World Junior Chess Championship. In 1988, he became India’s first Grandmaster by winning the Shakti Finance International chess tournament held in Coimbatore, India.
Vishawanathan Anand is among the 13 players in Chess to have a Elo rating of over 2800, with his peak ranking of 2817 which is the 8th highest ranking of all time in Chess.
He is also known for his rapid playing speed and won World Rapid Chess Championship in 2003 and 2017.
He is the first recipient of the Khel Ratna award in 1992. His highest award is India’s second highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan which he won in 2007.
4) PV Sindhu (Badminton)
Youngest sportsperson to feature on this list, PV Sindhu is well known for winning Silver medal in 2016 Olympics in Women’s singles.
Other main achievements of PV Sindhu include winning Gold in 2019 World championships in Women’s singles and Gold in Commonwealth Games 2018 in Mixed team category. Beginning in 2013, PV Sindhu won a medal at every world championships, with the exception of 2015. She is just the second woman after Zhang Ning to win five or more medals at the world championships.
She won Gold in BWF Superseries 3 times – China Open in 2016, India Open and Korea Open in 2017 and is a 6 time Gold medallist in BWF Grand Prix.
PV Sindhu was awarded the Padma Bhushan award in 2020.
3) Leander Paes (Tennis)
If age is just a number, then Leander Paes is one of those who make the saying true. Still going strong at age of 46 without showing any signs of aging and is expected to play and retire after the 2021 Olympics.
Leander Paes started playing Tennis at international level from 1991 and came into the notice of sports fans in 1996, when he won Bronze medal in Men’s singles in 1996 Olympics. Although he didn’t have much success in singles after that, his best performance being reaching the 3rd round of US Open in 1997, Leander Paes became a doubles specialist doing well in Men’s doubles and Mixed doubles where he got success and won Grand slam titles.
He made a partnership with Mahesh Bhupathi in Men’s doubles and with him won French Open in 1999 and 2001 and Wimbledon in 1999. Other titles included winning US Open in 2006 with Martin Damm. French Open and US Open in 2009 with Lukas Dlouhy. Australian open in 2012 and US Open in 2013 with Radek Stepanek.
In Mixed doubles, Leander Paes won Wimbledon in 1999 with Lisa Raymond. Australian open and Wimbledon in 2003 with Martina Navaratilova. US Open in 2008, Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2010 with Cara Black. Australian open, Wimbledon, US Open in 2015 and French Open in 2016 with Martina Hingis.
Also Leander Paes holds the world record for most Doubles wins in Davis cup with 43. Leander Paes won the Padma Bhushan award in 2014.
2) Sachin Tendulkar (Cricket)
No explaination needed for Sachin Tendulkar, also known as the “Master Blaster” and who represented India in cricket from 1989-2013 over 200 Tests, 463 ODIs and 1 T20I, and also has the world record for most runs in Tests with 15921 runs and most runs in ODIs with 18426 runs and also became the 1st batsman to smash a double century in ODIs.
Sachin Tendulkar has been a inspiration for many youngsters across India who want to become a cricketer and it was Sachin Tendulkar’s performance which was among one of the reasons why many Indians got attracted to cricket. Sachin Tendulkar was also awarded the “Bharat Ratna” in 2014, becoming the first sportsperson to recieve India’s highest civilian award.
1) Major Dhyan Chand (Hockey)
Talk about Indian Hockey and Dhyan Chand will be amongst the first names people will remember. Nicknamed as “The Wizard” and “The Magician”, Dhyan Chand represented India in Hockey from 1926-1949 in 185 international matches and scored 570 goals. He was a part of the Hockey team which won Gold medal at 1928 and 1932 Olympics, and he was the captain of the Hockey team which won Gold medal at 1936 Olympics.
Dhyan Chand’s birthday on 29 August is celebrated as “National Sports Day” and the highest sports award in India is named as “Dhyan Chand award” for lifetime achievement in sports.
Given his unbelievable wizardry in Hockey, Netherlands authorities once broke his hockey stick to find if there was a magnet inside before the match.