India is a country of diverse religion, culture, and tradition. Sports is no more just associated with games or physical activity rather it has become a nationwide sensation and inspiration. Being a sportsperson is not easy. The amount of discipline, determination and hard work required is not everyone’s cup of tea. Certain great sportspersons stunned the nation with their exceptional performance. Just as Barney Stinson from ‘How I met your Mother‘ says: They are Legen-wait for it)-dary, Legendary!
These legendary sportspersons have not only made the country proud, but they have also lit a flame of hope in the hearts of many youngsters who wish to pursue their career in sports. These famous personalities have struggled their life to reach the top of the ladder. Nothing was served to them on a golden platter.
Let us throw some light on the 10 Legendary Sportspersons in India.
1) Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar
Legends are not made in a day. Sachin Tendulkar, the former captain, and Indian cricketer is a famous batsman. He gained worldwide recognition as a result of his hard work, passion, and dedication. Born on 24 April 1973, he made his test debut against Pakistan on 15 November 1989 when he was just 16 years old. Popularly known as ‘Master Blaster’ this right-handed batsman is the only one who scored one hundred international centuries, a double century in one-day international and completed more than 30,000 runs in international cricket. He earned many feathers in his cap that include highest civilian awards Padma Shree, Padma Vibhushan, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and Arjuna award. After taking retirement from twenty20 cricket format in October 2013, he decided to say goodbye to cricket. Tendulkar has been a part of many subjects. His autobiography ‘Playing it my way’ published by Hachette India was record breaking. Presently, everyone’s eyes are waiting for his upcoming Indian movie ‘Sachin: A billion dreams’ based on his life. He is truly legendary as he has inspired a great mass! His simplicity and constant perseverance made him the hero for many rising stars.
2) Dhyan ”Chand” Singh
Most of us have watched Shah Rukh Khan’s movie ‘Chak de India’. It is an amazingly inspiring movie. Just imagine, if the movie could bring thrills to the nation, what would the sport- ‘Hockey’ be up to! Our very own centre-forward player, Dhyan Chand made India proud by winning three Olympic gold medals (1928, 1932 and 1936) and that at a time when India was the most domineering team in hockey. Popular as ‘The Wizard’ man because of his hockey skills and ball control, he managed to score more than 400 goals during his international passage. This army brat also received a Padma Bhushan. His birthday (29 August) is celebrated as National Sports Day in India. Dhyan Chand Award is given annually to those sportspersons (since 2002) who have shown remarkable performance in sports. It is also given to those retired sports personalities who had shown extraordinary performance on the field during their lifetime.
3) Pullela Gopichand
Pullela Gopichand is a former Indian badminton player who won the All England Open Badminton Championships in 2001 and became the second Indian after Prakash Padukone to win this prestigious title. He has dedicated himself as the chief National coach for the Indian badminton team. He is also honored with Dronacharya award (2009), Arjuna award (1999), Padma Bhushan (2004), and Padma Shree (2005). Now he runs a Gopichand Badminton Academy. His aim is to provide the needed infrastructure to the budding players, which India lacks. The academy has given the nation several badminton stars including P. Kashyap, Saina Nehwal, Srikant Kadambi, Arun Mishra and Arundhati Pantawane. Out of his best-trained players, Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics and P.V.Sindhu won a silver medal at Rio Olympics in 2016 (present year). This legendary sports personality, very deserving, gained fame at a very young age.
4) SANIA MIRZA
She is ranked ‘1’ in women’s double in tennis. She is truly an inspiration for thousands and lakhs of Indian girls who dream of having a career in sports. Recently she brought home the 2015 Wimbledon championship trophy after defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.
She is an offensive baseliner and is one among the high-profile and high-paid athlete in India. She won Arjuna Award, Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and got recognition as WTA newcomer of the year 2005. She married the Pakistani Cricketer Shoaib Malik in 2010. Mirza is appointed as the brand ambassador of Telangana state and she is the first South- Asian woman to be appointed as Goodwill ambassador for UN. She runs her own tennis academy in Hyderabad nurturing young talent.
5) VISHWANATHAN ANAND
The only Indian brain in chess and former world chess champion, Anand became India’s first grandmaster in 1988. He was the first recipient of Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 1991 and then became the first sportsperson to be honored with Padma Vibhushan (2007).
6) MILKHA SINGH
Many of us have watched ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’. We are quite familiar with this legendary sportsperson’s life. This inspirational athlete is also known as ‘The Flying Sikh’. He is an Indian sprinter who made his debut while serving Indian army. He is the only Indian to have won a gold medal at commonwealth games before Krishna Poonia. He received Padma Shree for his outstanding achievements.
7) Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom
Coming from the Kom tribe in Manipur is this five-time World Boxing champion- Mary Kom. She is the only Indian woman boxer to get qualified for Beijing Olympics. She won a bronze medal in the flyweight (51 kg) category setting an example for everyone who thinks that women aren’t physically strong!
8) Leander Adrian Paes
This Indian tennis player won eight doubles and ten mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. He is a more distinguished doubles and mixed doubles player of all time. He is also the sports ambassador for the Indian state Haryana.
9) Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha
P.T.Usha is an applauded Indian track and field athlete. Also called Payyoli express, she had set a national record at the state athletic meet at Kottayam in 1977 and participated in Moscow Olympics in 1980. She is the first Indian woman to qualify for the final of an Olympics event. She is also the recipient of Arjuna award (1984), Padma Shree 1984, Adidas golden shoe award for the best athlete (1986 Seoul Olympics) and much more.
10) ABHINAV BINDRA
2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal winner in the 10m air rifle, Abhinav Bindra made the nation proud. He also won a gold medal in Commonwealth games in 2014 in Glasgow. He is a professional shooter and a businessman. He won the Arjuna award (2000), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2001) and Padma Bhushan (2009). Recently he was appointed as the Goodwill ambassador for Rio 2016 Olympic Games Indian contingent and finished coming fourth in 10m air rifle event.