Since decades, India has been participating in myriad sports; including cricket, football, tennis, table tennis, basketball, swimming, hockey, gymnastics, and athletics. While several sportspersons garner the much-deserved admiration and popularity, some don’t become as famous as they should ideally be.
Here is a list of some hidden gems belonging to the world of sports, who found it difficult to make their way to the limelight, despite making India proud:
1) Balbir Singh Sr
As a hockey player, Balbir Singh Sr remains an unsung hero for most Indians. He played a pivotal role in India’s Olympic wins in London, Melbourne and Helsinki. He was known best for his upright posture while striking, which left goalkeepers confused about which side he was going to shoot. The three-time Olympian passed away this year in May. He is often referred to as the sport’s greatest centre-forward.
2) Devendra Jhajaria
He is the first Indian to bag two gold medals at the Paralympics for the javelin throw- first at Athens and the second one at Rio de Janeiro. At the age of eight, Devendra lost his hand to an electric wire he came in contact with, however, he did not let this become a setback for him in his sports career. Jhajaria has also been honoured with the prestigious Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, and Arjuna Award.
3) Shiva Thapa
He participated in the 2012 London Olympics and became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the same. Thapa is the third Indian to clinch a gold medal at the Asian Games. In 2016, the immensely talented boxer was honoured with the Arjuna Award by the then President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee.
4) Pankaj Advani
Advani is the only cueist to have won the World and Asian Championships in all formats of Snooker and Billiards. Advani is a 23 time World Champion and won his first title when he was only 18 years old. He has bagged the most prestigious awards- Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Arjuna Award and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
5) Achanta Sharath Kamal
He represented India at the 2014 Olympics at Athens and in the 2006 Asian Games at Qatar. He was the first Indian table tennis player to bag a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games. He is also the recipient of the Arjuna Award.
6) Vikas Gowda
A notable discus thrower and shot putter, Vikas Gowda has many achievements to his name. The most significant one being the gold medal he won during the 2014 Commonwealth Games, making him the second Indian man to win a gold in athletics after Milkha Singh’s feat in 1956.
7) Shiva Keshavan
Six-time Olympian, Shiva Keshavan, is the first Indian to represent the country in luge at the Winter Olympics. He won a gold medal at the 2011 Asian Luge Cup at Japan. Keshavan is a talented athlete and the youngest individual to qualify for the Olympics.
8) Ashish Kumar
An Indian Gymnast, Ashish Kumar won the first-ever medal for the country in this sport. By winning medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he became the most successful Indian gymnast in Commonwealth Games history. At the South Central Asian Gymnastics Championships in Dhaka in December 2011 Kumar won four gold medals.