You could call them mere players in a game. But to do so would overlook the power that India’s greatest athletes have to motivate generations with their deeds, both on and off the field. At the topmost band of the nation’s sports pantheon are athletes who were trailblazers; athletes who didn’t let unexplored field overturn their ambitions; athletes who lived and played with self-esteem, commanding both fear and respect.
Have a look at who these heroes are:
1. Kapil Dev:
Kapil Dev was India’s first true pace bowler. He bowled injury free, when bowlers today have a tough time lasting a series without a grievance. As national team captain Dev codified the phrase “Kapil’s Devils” in sporting wisdom. Retiring as the highest wicket taker ever, anywhere and one of the best cricketing all rounder’s India has ever had.
2. Milkha Singh:
Milkha singh was known as the ‘the flying Sikh.’ Pride of Punjab. Pride of India. He did what no Indian did at the time. He ran — as a profession. Singh is on this list for gold medals won in the Asian Games in 1958 and 1962. Also, there was a movie “Bhag Milkha Bhag” which was made to give respect to this great athlete.
3. Vishwanathan Anand:
Whenever someone talks about chess, Vishwanathan Anand is definitely one of the first name that comes to our mind. World champion, grandmaster, Arjuna awardee, Chess Oscar winner, padma shri, padma bhushan, padma vibhushan and a global ambassador to the brainy sport. He may live his life in black and white, but Anand’s achievements are a brilliant rainbow on India’s sports horizon.
4. Sachin Tendulkar:
Sachin Tendulkar is one person that does not need an introduction. Known as the Master Blaster and God of Cricket, he is undoubtedly the most famous sports person in India. His passion and love for the game is impeccable. After his retirement, the aura may have dimmed, if only slightly, as the years on the international circuit took their toll on the body, but Tendulkar remains, by a distance, the most worshipped cricketer in the world.
5. Prakash Padukone:
Prakash Padukone is a badminton champion who dominated the national badminton scene for almost a decade (1971–80) His greatest accomplishment came in 1980 when he became the first Indian to win the All England Championships, the world’s most prestigious annual badminton competition. The All England win catapulted Padukone to the number one world badminton ranking, making him the first Indian to achieve that status.
6. Mahesh Bhupathi:
Mahesh Bhupathi is the first Indian to win the prestigious Grand Slam Tournament in 1997. He has also won the Australian Open mixed doubles in 2006 and is one of the most looked upon sportsmen in the country. He has established a reliable career in tennis and is a role model for the upcoming young players.
7. Abhinav Bindra:
Abhinav Bindra is the first sportsman from India to win a gold medal in an individual event. He made the country proud when he grabbed the gold medal in 2008 Beijing Olympics.
8. Sushil Kumar:
Sushil Kumar is the world champion wrestler who grabbed the title after winning a gold medal in FILA 2010 World Wrestling Championships. He has received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna - India’s highest honour for sportspersons.
9. Sunil Gavaskar:
Gavaskar batted in an era when the dangerous West Indian pace quartet was at peak ferocity. He was the first man to cross the unthinkable milestone of 10,000 runs in test cricket and surpassed Sir Don’s record for test centuries. He did it all seemingly without breaking a sweat and smiling, always, all the way to the commentary booth where he now sits.
10. Leander Paes:
Leander Paes is another famous personality in tennis who has won around eight doubles and six mixed double Grand Slam Tournaments. He is one of the most focused and respected sportsmen both nationally and internationally.
These are the top most sportsmen of India who will always be remembered and a true model for all the aspiring sports individual