Indian sports have witnessed unprecedented success in recent times. Whereas the cricket team has emerged as the top Test team, the football team has reached their highest FIFA ranking (96) under Stephen Constantine. Further, India’s performance at the Commonwealth, Olympics, South Asian Federation Games, Afro Asian Games and other international events has witnessed tremendous improvement in the recent decade.
Independence Day is just around the corner and this is the time to remember ans salute our heroes. Let’s have a look at India’s biggest sporting icons who have brought laurels to the country.
Kapil Dev was one of the greatest all-rounders to have ever graced the game of cricket. He was India's best fast bowler, best all-rounder and one of the country’s top notch captains who will always be remembered for leading the country to the biggest thing to happen to Indian cricket: the 1983 World Cup triumph.
With the ball, he was known for his energetic action and lethal outswingers which took the ball away from the right handers. With the bat, he was an aggressive lower-middle order batsman who could shift the momentum of a game in minutes. On the field, he was known for his inspirational leadership and athletic fielding.
All these qualities made him the only player in the history of the game to have taken 400 wickets and scored more than 5000 runs in Test cricket.
PT Usha, known as the â€œPayyoli Expressâ€ is one of the greatest athletes to have represented India on the tracks in the Olympics. Her fourth position in 400 meters hurdles in 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, is by far the closest to an Olympic medal on the tracks by an Indian female athlete.
At the age of 16, she became the youngest Indian sprinter to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
She has won 101 international medals and presently runs her coaching academy in Kerala.
Indiaâ€™s sole individual gold medalist at the Olympic Games, Abhinav Bindra has flown the Indian flag high in various international events.
After Anjali Bhagwat, Abhinav Bindra became the poster boy for the sport of shooting in India. in 2008, after fighting his fatal back injury, Abhinav rose like a phoenix and clinched Indiaâ€™s first individual Olympic gold medal.
He announced his retirement from the game after participating in his last Olympics in 2016.
Vishwanathan Anand is considered one of the best rapid chess players of his generation. He remained the undisputed King of chess from 2007 to 2013 after winning the World Chess Championship 5 times â€“ in 2000, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Further, he successfully claimed the Chess Oscar 6 times.
He has won several awards and the most notable ones that he received are the Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Padma Shri, and Arjuna Award.
Sachin Tendulkar is renowned as the â€˜God of Cricketâ€™ due to his batting exploits all around the globe. Debuting as a 16-year-old, the Mumbai lad won millions of hearts as he faced the deadly Pakistan bowling duo of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.
Since then, he went on to conquer various feats and piled on thousands of runs. The icing on the cake were the 2011 World Cup victory and 100 centuries. The latter achievement catapulted him as the greatest batsman ever to play the game.
Leander Paes is the greatest tennis player the country has ever produced. The iconic player is considered to be one of the best doubles and mixed doubles players of all time, having achieved a career Grand Slam in each discipline.
He has won eight doubles and ten mixed doubles Grand Slam titles, and is the oldest man to have won a Grand Slam title. He holds a career Grand Slam in men's doubles and mixed doubles, and achieved the rare men's doubles/mixed doubles double at the 1999 Wimbledon tournament.
His mixed doubles Wimbledon title in 2010 made him the second man (after Rod Laver) to win Wimbledon titles in three decades.
He also won a bronze medal in singles in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games.
Sushil Kumar has carved a niche in the annals of India's wrestling history on account of his awesome performances. Competing in the 66 kg weight division he won the 2010 world title, a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics and a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which made him the only Indian to win two individual Olympic medals.
Sushil won the gold medal in the 74 kg division at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
P. V. Sindhu is an Indian professional badminton player who earned widespread fame after winning a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics. With this win, she became the first and youngest Indian woman to win a silver medal at the Olympics.
In 2013, she won a bronze medal at the Badminton World Championships to become the first Indian women's singles player to do so.
In March 2015, she became the recipient of India's fourth highest civilian honor, the Padma Shri.
Mary Kom is an iconic boxer from Manipur whoâ€™s renowned for being a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion. Nicknamed â€˜Magnificent Maryâ€™, she is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.
Further, she is the only Indian woman boxer to win the bronze medal in 2012 Summer Olympics in the flyweight (51 kg) category. Her legendary status was enhanced as she became the first Indian woman boxer to win the Gold Medal in the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea.
Pankaj Advani is an Indian professional player of English billiards and a former professional snooker player. He has carved a niche for himself in English billiards holding the World, Asian, and Indian National Championship titles simultaneously, in three different years: 2005, 2008 and 2012.
Advani won the 2014 IBSF World 6-Red Snooker Championship, on his debut in that discipline. The Indian government bestowed several awards on Advani like the Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and Padma Shri for his remarkable achievements in the sports arena.