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Updated by Rajashri Venkatesh on Jun 20, 2014
Headline for India's Greatest Sportspeople Of All Time!
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India's Greatest Sportspeople Of All Time!

India has produced many great and sports heros who have been role models for the young generations since a long time. These people have represented India in every field of sport and brought glory to our country.

Kapil Dev

Kapil Dev was the greatest pace bowler India has produced, and their greatest fast-bowling allrounder. If he had played at any other time - not when Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee were contemporaries - he would surely have been recognised as the best allrounder in the world. In any case he did enough to be voted India's Cricketer of the Century during 2002, ahead of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. His greatest feats were to lead India almost jauntily, and by his all-round example, to the 1983 World Cup, and to take the world-record aggregate of Test wickets from Hadlee. It was the stamina of the marathon runner that took him finally to 431 wickets and only a yard beyond. He might not have been quite the bowling equal of Imran, Hadlee or Botham at his best, and his strike rate was less than four wickets per Test, but he was still outstanding in his accuracy and ability to swing the ball, usually away from right-handers.

Prakash Padukone

Prakash Padukone is an Indian Badminton player, and the best Badminton player India has ever seen till now. Known as the Gentle Tiger on the court, Prakash was the first Indian Badminton player ever to win the prestigious All England Badminton Championship. The first official Badminton tournament that Prakash participated in was the Karnataka State Junior Championship 1962, wherein he lost right in the first round. Improving his performance, Prakash was able to win the State Junior Championship 2 years later in 1964. Later, he won the National Junior Badminton Championship in the year 1970. He managed to win both the Junior National and Senior National Badminton titles in the year 1971, at the age of 16 years. Prakash continued to win the National Senior title for 9 years in a row, a record that has still not been equaled.

Viswanathan Anand

Anand learned to play chess from his mother when he was 6 years old. By the time he was 14, Anand had won the Indian National Sub-Junior Championship with a perfect score of nine wins in nine games. At age 15 he became the youngest Indian to earn the international master title. The following year, he won the first of three consecutive national championships. At age 17 Anand became the first Asian to win a world chess title when he won the 1987 FIDE World Junior Championship, which is open to players who have not reached their 20th birthday by January 1 of the tournament year. Anand followed up that victory by earning the international grandmaster title in 1988. In 1991 Anand won his first major international chess tournament, finishing ahead of world champion Garry Kasparov and former world champion Anatoly Karpov. For the first time since the American Bobby Fischer abandoned the title in 1975, a non-Russian had emerged as a favourite to become world chess champion.

Milkha Singh

Sardar Milkha Singh is the greatest living Sikh Athlete. Born in a family of modest means, joining the army and then discovering the penchant for running and winning is his life in summation. milkha singh at 1960 Olympics. He deservedly got an epithet named "Flying Sikh" from Pakistan General Ayub Khan. Till date (Until 2000 Sydney Olympics) the 'Flying Sikh' is the only Indian to have broken an Olympic record. Unfortunately, he was the fourth athlete to reset the mark and thus missed the bronze medal in the 400m event at the Rome Olympics in 1960.

Dhyan Chand

Players like Dhyanchand become a synonym of the game; he is not a hero; he has become the parameter of hockey by which other player's caliber is measured. It is surprising to know that Dhyan Chand, who came to be known as hockey's magician, started playing hockey only after joining the army! Dhyanchand took to playing hockey in army and was included in the Indian Hockey team for the 1926 New Zealand tour. Such was the awe of Dhayan Chand that in a Vienna sports club, they installed a statue of Dhyan Chand with four arms and four sticks. Dhyan Chand was so charismatic in the hockey field that everyone around the world doubted if his stick was made of something else other than wood!

Mahesh Bhupathi

Mahesh has traveled extensively from the age of 14 and has played in major tournaments all over the world. He had an outstanding two-year career at the University of Mississippi from 1994-95, earning singles and doubles All-America honors in '95. He was the finalist in doubles in the Under-18 at Wimbledon. He turned pro in 1995. He teamed with Ali Hamadeh in 1995 to win the NCAA doubles title and finished as the No. 1 player in doubles and No. 3 in singles. He was India's national champion in 1994 and 1995 and a member of the Indian Davis Cup team since 1995 and represents India in Davis Cup Singles and Doubles. He won a Silver and 3 Gold medals at the SAF Games, represented India at the Atlanta Olympics - 1996, took India to the Quarter Finals of the Elite World Group in Davis Cup along with Leander Paes. In 1997, he became the first Indian to win a Grand Slam when he took the mixed doubles French Open along with Japan's Rika Hiraki.

Sushil Kumar

Born on May 26, 1983, Sushil Kumar has become one of the big stars of wrestling in India. He won the gold medal in the 2010 World Wrestling Championships and a bronze in 2008 Beijing Olympics. But his greatest achievement came at the 2012 London Olympics when he won a silver medal. He also became the first Indian to win back-to-back individual Olympic medals. He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2009.

Abhinav Bindra

In 1996, a 13-year-old Abhinav Bindra watched the gifted Jaspal Rana take an aim at the ’96 Olympics in Atlanta. He then looked at his sister and declared, “one day I will win a medal”. In 2008, at the Beijing Olympics, Abhinav had his shot at history, and became the first India to ever win an individual Gold Medal in Olympics, since 1900, the year India participated in the Games for the first time. He is also the first Indian to bag the World Championship in Air Rifle Shooting in Zagreb, 2006. Success came to him early. At age 17, he competed in his first Olympic Games in Sydney (2000). At 15, he was member of the Indian Commonwealth Games Team, and before he turned 20, he broke the world record in shooting. At 25, he was an Olympic champion. But Abhinav’s journey to become the first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold, and the first Indian to win a World Championship gold, is far more than that. It is a triumph born of a tragedy, one that struck him at the Athens Olympics in 2004. Defeated, he changed as a shooter: from a boy who loved shooting to an athlete bent on redemption, becoming a scientist who would try anything, including mapping his own brain, to win in Beijing.

Pankaj Advani

When most athletes only begin to peak, at the age of 27 Pankaj Advani has already won all the championships his game has to offer many times over. The 8-time World Champion in cue sports won his first world title when he was just 18 and is the only Asian to have ever won both the Billiards and Snooker World Championships. One of the youngest Indians to be honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, Pankaj has also been conferred the Arjuna and Padmashree awards. He is widely admired for his calm and intense focus while competing. He is a compassionate vegetarian and a teetotaller. The suave young achiever is quite the fashionista and has walked the ramp as showstopper for top designers like Wendell Rodricks, Babita Malkani and Manoviraj Khosla.

Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar has been the most complete batsman of his time, the most prolific runmaker of all time, and arguably the biggest cricket icon the game has ever known. His batting was based on the purest principles: perfect balance, economy of movement, precision in stroke-making, and that intangible quality given only to geniuses - anticipation. If he didn't have a signature stroke - the upright, back-foot punch comes close - it's because he was equally proficient at each of the full range of orthodox shots (and plenty of improvised ones as well) and can pull them out at will. There were no apparent weaknesses in Tendulkar's game. He could score all around the wicket, off both front foot and back, could tune his technique to suit every condition, temper his game to suit every situation, and made runs in all parts of the world in all conditions.

Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal was born on 17th March 1990 in Hisar District, Haryana and is an Indian badminton player currently ranked number 4 in the world by the Badminton World Federation. Saina is the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships and the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics. She won a Bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic, becoming the second Indian women to win an individual medal at the Olympics. She is supported by the Olympic Gold Quest. Saina started her badminton training under the apt guidance of S.M. Arif, who was a Dronacharya Awardee. She is currently coached by Indonesian badminton legend Atik Jauhari along with former all England champion and national coach Pullela Gopichand as her mentor. Being born to Harvir Singh Nehwal, who is a scientist at Directorate of Oilseeds Research and Usha Nehwal, who is a former Haryana state champion; Saina Nehwal has always received the support of her family members.

Mary Kom

Born on 1st March 1983, Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom is an Indian boxer from the northeast state of Manipur. She is also known as MC Mary Kom or Magnificent Mary. Mary Kom is famed as a five time World Boxing Champion and the only boxer to win a medal in every one of the six world championships. In the 2012 Olympics, she became the first Indian women boxer to qualify and win a bronze medal in the 51 kg flyweight category of Boxing. She is currently ranked as Number. 4 in the Flyweight category of AIBA World Women's Ranking.
Mary was born in Kangathei, Manipur. She did her schooling from Loktak Christian Model High School, Moirang till class VI and studied in St. Xavier Catholic School, Moirang till class VIII. She then completed her schooling from NIOS, Imphal and did her graduation from Churachandpur College. Mary Kom is a mother of twin sons, Rechungvar and Khupneivar; and is married to K Onler Kom. She had an eager interest in athletics since childhood and the success of Dingko Singh is what really inspired her to become a boxer.