13 Famous Indian Athletes

Are you interested to learn about some of the famous Indian athletes?

For a country obsessed with cricket, India has produced some of the best athletes in the world. There have been many athletes throughout Indian sports history who set a milestone in various sports.

Although most of the athletes may have flown under the radar, their achievements in the international platform have left a significant mark. Moreover, their achievements have brought glory to the whole nation.

Indian-athletes-in-Tokyo-Olympic
Indian athletes in Tokyo Olympics (Source: Instagram)

Therefore, we are including some of these inspiring Indian athletes. These athletes have made an unforgettable legacy with their undaunting hard work and determination.

So without further ado, let’s proceed with thirteen of these glorious Indian athletes who are the glory of the nation.

13 Famous Indian Athletes

This list has been prepared with reference to several trusted sources from the internet like ESPNScrolldoll, etc.

Let us take a quick peek at the table before going through the details.

Player NameSport
13. Abhinav BindraShooting
12. Sushil KumarWrestling
11. Sardara SinghHockey
10. Sachin TendulkarCricket
9. Sunil ChhetriFootball
8. Mary KomBoxing
7. MS DhoniCricket
6. Milkha SinghTrack and Field
5. Mithali RajCricket
4. Saina NehwalBadminton
3. PT UshaTrack and Field
2. Sania MirzaLawn Tennis
1. Virat KohliCricket

13. Abhinav Bindra

Abhinav Bindra was born in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, on September 28, 1982. Bindra is one of the best shooters coming from India.

He did his schooling in India while studying at Colorado Boulder University. Bindra took his interest in shooting sport very seriously.

Bindra traveled to Germany to train with the best facilities unavailable in India. And his hard work and determination did pay off. As a result, Bindra became the first and only two Indians to win an individual Olympic Gold Medal.

Abhinav-Bindra
Abhinav Bindra (Source: Instagram)

Bindra is the first Indian to hold the world and Olympic titles for the men’s 10-meter air rifle event. He has also won seven medals at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, along with this win.

With a 22-year professional career, Abhinav is an inspiration to many young Indians. Bindra has successfully paved the way for the younger generation in shooting sport in India.

For his contribution to the country, Bindra has been awarded Padma Bhusan, the third-highest civilian award of India. He also has a non-profit organization that integrates sports, science, and technology into Indian sports.

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12. Sushil Kumar

The following Indian athlete is a former Indian wrestler, Sushil Kumar. Kumar was born on May 26, 1983, in Delhi, India. He is the second Indian wrestler to win Olympic medals for India.

Kumar ventured into the wrestling world at the early age of 14. He started training in Pehlwani at the Chhatrasai Stadium’s Akhada. After some time, he switched to freestyle wrestling.

In the 1998 World Cadet Games, Kumar first got his success where he won a gold medal in his weight category. Then in 2000, he won another gold at the Asian Junior Wrestling Championship.

Sushil_Kumar_in_2014
Sushil Kumar in 2014 Commonwealth Games (Source: Wikimedia.org)

In 2010, Kumar became the first Indian to win a World Wrestling Championships. Similarly, in the same year, he won a gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Then in the 2012 London Olympics, Kumar was the Olympic flag bearer for India at the opening ceremony.

Aside from these wins, he has won numerous awards and medals during his professional career. In addition, the government of India has also awarded him for his contributions.

11. Sardara Singh

Sardara Singh is a 36 year-old former Indian field hockey player. Singh was also the captain of the Indian National Team.

Born in Haryana’s village Sant Nagar, Singh made his debut in the junior team of India in 2003-4 tour of Poland. In 2006, he made his senior debut in a game against Pakistan.

During his professional career, Sardara mostly played the center half position. He played for domestic teams like Chandigarh Dynamos and Hyderabad Sultans. Likewise, he was also part of international teams like the KHC Leuven and HC Bolemendaal.

Sardara_Singh
Sardara Singh (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Singh held the helm of the Indian team as a captain for 8 years. He was the youngest player to captain the Indian team. Apart from being a hockey player, Singh is also a Deputy Superintendent Police Officer with the Haryana Police and plays for their team.

During his professional career, Sardara has won many awards and achievements. Additionally, in the inaugural Hockey Indian League, he became the highest-paid marquee player. Moreover, he has also made his debut in the Punjabi Music Industry.

He had a 12 years professional career before retiring in 2018. Singh was awarded Padma Shri in 2015 by the government of India.

10. Sachin Tendulkar

India is a country obsessed with cricket, and Sachin Tendulkar is a name that is known to all Indians. Born in Maharastra, India, Tendulkar is one of the greatest batsmen in cricket history.

Tendulkar is nicknamed “Little Master” or “Master Blaster.” Although his father was a well-known Marathi novelist and poet, Tendulkar chose to play cricket.

At an early age, he established himself as a child prodigy. The local cricketing circles already suggested he would become one of the greats.

Tendulkar proved them correct, and he established himself as one of the best batsmen on domestic and international platforms. During his professional career, 1994-1999 is considered his peak years.

The_cricket_legend_Sachin_Tendulkar_at_the_Oval_Maidan_in_Mumbai
Sachin Tendulkar at the Oval Maidan in Mumbai (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Tendulkar holds many records and achievements that, to date, are still not broken by any other player. For example, some of the records include being the highest run-scorer of all time in international cricket, the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries.

Likewise, he is also the holder of the record for the most runs in both Test and ODI cricket, the first batsman to score a double century in an ODI. In addition, he is the only player to complete more than 30,000 runs in international cricket, etc.

In addition, Tendulkar has also been awarded the Khel Ratna award in 1997, which is the highest sporting honor and by Padma Shri and Padman Vibushan. Although Tendulkar has retired from all forms of cricket, he is the most influential figure in Indian cricket history.

9. Sunil Chhetri

We have a professional football player next on our list. Sunil Chhetri plays as a forward and captain of the Indian national team and the Indian Super League club Bengaluru.

38 year-old Chhetri was born in Andhra Pradesh (present-day Telangana), India. He started his professional football career playing for the Mohun Bagan of the National Football League in 2002.

In the 2007 Nehru Cup, Chettri made his first international debut. Chhetri scored two goals in his debut game, and India defeated Cambodia by 6-0. He has been part of different domestic teams as well as international teams.

Sunil_Chhetri_(2008_AFC_Challenge_Cup)
Sunil Chhetri in 2008 AFC Challenge Cup (Source: Wikimedia.org)

In 2010 Chhetri signed for Major League Soccer side the Kansas City Wizards. This event made him the third player from the subcontinent of note to go abroad. Chettri was the leading player to lead his country to victory in 2007, 2009, and the 2012 Nehru Cup.

Likewise, Chhetri also played a crucial part in India winning 2011, 2015, and 2021 SAFF Championship. He is the most-capped player and the all-time top goalscorer in Indian football history.

For his achievements and contribution, Chettri was awarded Padma Shri in 2019. Similarly, he was also awarded Khel Ratna Award in 2021, making him the first footballer to receive this India’s highest sporting honor.

As of 2021, Chhetri has become the second joint-highest International goalscorer along with Lionel Messi.

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8. Mary Kom

Born as Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom in Manipur, India, she is an Indian amateur boxer. 39 year-old Kom is the only woman to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship six times.

Nicknamed as “Magnificent Mary,” Kom came from a low-income family. She participated in sports like volleyball, football, and athletics. She switched to boxing in 2000 after the success of Dingko Singh inspired her.

Although Mary took a short hiatus after getting married, she started training after the birth of her first child. Since then, she has been part of many national and international games and collected many awards and medals.

Mary-kom-in-Olympics
Mary Kom In Olympics (Source: Instagram)

In 2008, Kom won a silver medal in the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship held in India. Then in the same year, she won a fourth successive gold medal at the 2008 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships held in China.

Kom was the only Indian female boxer qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2014, Kom won a gold medal in the Asian Game held at Incheon, South Korea, making her the first Indian boxer to win gold.

Similarly, in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Mary became the first Indian boxer to win gold. In addition, she is the only boxer (male or female) to win the eighth World Championship medals. Moreover, she is the only female boxer to win a medal in the first World Championships.

In 2018, the government of Manipur gave her the title “Meethol Leima,” meaning a great or exceptional lady after her sixth world title. She was also awarded Padma Vibhusan in 2020.

7. MS Dhoni

Born as Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he is famously known as MS Dhoni or Mahi among Indian cricket fans. He is a former international cricketer from Bihar (now in Jharkhand), India.

Now 41 year old Dhoni started his cricket journey ever since he was young. He was selected to play in the 1998 Central Coal Field Limited (CCL) team.

Then he went ahead to play for the Bihar and then Jharkhand cricket team before being picked by India A team. Dhoni made his international career debut in 2004-2005. However, he had a bad start at the beginning of his ODI career.

Despite having a rough start, Dhoni was able to make a breakthrough. The cricketer was given the captaincy of the Indian team in Test cricket from 2008-2014. From 2007 to 2017, he captained held the helm of the Indian national cricket team in limited-overs formats.

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni

In 2009, under Dhoni’s captaincy, India topped the Test cricket ranking for the first time. Mahi is also the first Indian wicket-keeper to complete 4,000 test runs. Similarly, he has several records under his name.

Dhoni is considered the greatest captain of the Indian cricket team. He retired from Test cricket in 2014 and from the captain of the limited-overs game in 2017. 

Dhoni has retired from an international career; however, he is still active in domestic cricket. He is currently captain of the Indian Premier League franchise team, the Chennai Super Kings.

6. Milkha Singh

Next on our list is the former Indian track and field sprinter, Milkah Singh. Born on November 20, 1929, in Punjab, Singh was first introduced to the sport while serving in the Indian Army.

Singh is one of the top sporting icons of India. He was nicknamed “The Flying Sikh” for his speed. Coming from a remote village, Singh acknowledged that the army introduced him to the sport. He did not know what running was or about the Olympics.

In the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games, he represented India in the 200m and 400m competitions. Singh has since represented India in various international platforms other than Olympics like Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, etc.

Milkha_Singh_in_a_conference
Milkha Singh in a conference (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Singh is the only athlete to earn gold at 400 meters at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. Similarly, in the 1958 and 1962 Asian Games, he was able to bring home gold medals.

Likewise, Singh won gold medals in the 1958 Cuttack National Games in the 200 meters and 400 meters games. In the same year, he bagged gold in the 440 yards game in the Commonwealth Games.

For his contribution to the Indian sport, the government of India awarded him Padma Shri in 1959. Singh was described as “the finest athlete India has ever produced” by journalist Rohit Brijnath in 2008.

Sadly, the flying Sikh passed away at the age of 91 on June 18, 2021, due to COVID-19 complications.

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5. Mithali Raj

39 year-old Mithali Raj is a female Indian cricketer born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

She is captain of India’s women’s national cricket team. She is one of the best female cricketers in India and international women’s cricket history.

At 14, Mithali was named among the probable in the 1997 Women’s Cricket World Cup. However, Raj was unable to make it to the final squad then. In 1999, she made her international debut in a game against Ireland at Milton Keynes.

Raj became the Wisden Leading Woman Cricketer in the world in 2017. She is the highest run-scorer in women’s international cricket. Moreover, she is the only female cricketer to surpass the 7,000 run mark in the Women’s ODI matches.

Mithali Raj (Source: Twitter)
Mithali Raj (Source: Twitter)

Aside from these achievements, Raj has many more records under her name. For instance, she is the first player to score seven consecutive 50s in ODIs, and she also has a record for most half-centuries in Women’s ODI.

Raj became the first Indian player (male or female) to score 2000 runs in T20Is in the 2018 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup. 

The government of India awarded her the Padma Shri in 2015, which is the fourth-highest civilian award of India. In addition, she was also awarded by Arjuna Award and Major Dhyanchand Khel Ratna, which is the second and first highest sporting honor in India.

4. Saina Nehwal

On our list of famous Indian athletes, we have a professional badminton player, Saina Nehwal. 32 year-old Nehwal was born in Haryana, India. She is a former world number 1 badminton player.

Nehal started playing badminton at the age of eight. She became the under-19 champion and created history after winning the “Asian Satellite Badminton tournament” (India Chapter) twice in 2006. She was the first player to set this milestone.

At the age of 16 in 2006, Nehal became the first Indian woman and the youngest player from Asia to win the Philippines Open, a 4-star tournament.

Saina_Nehwal_2010
Saina Nehwal 2010 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

In 2015, Nehal attained the world number 1 ranking, becoming the only female player from India to achieve this feat. In addition, she has won over 24 international titles, including 11 Superseries titles.

Nehal has represented India three times in the Olympics. She became the first Indian to win two singles gold medals in the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2018. Aside from being one of the most successful Indian sportspeople, she is also ranked 18th as the most charitable athlete.

Nehal is credited for increasing the popularity of badminton sport in India. She is one of the most successful Indian sportspersons.

She has been awarded by the Padma Bhushan, Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna, and the Arjuna Award by the government of India.

3. PT Usha

On our third list is the Golden girl of India. Her name is PT Usha, and she was born on June 27, 1964, in Kuttali, Kerala. Usha is a retired track and field athlete and often also called the “Queen of Indian track and field.”

Usha was first noticed by OM Nambiar, an athletics coach, at a sports prize distribution ceremony in 1977. He noticed her lean shape and fast walking style, which made him believe, she would be an excellent sprinter.

In the same year, Nambiar started coaching Usha, and in the 1978 inter-state meet, she won six medals. Then she went ahead to win multiple medals in the 1979 National Games and 1980 National inter-state meet.

PT-Usha-in-action
PT Usha in action (Source: Instagram)

Usha has won numerous medals and set many national records during her professional career. For instance, she was able to break 200m national records and set a new record of 400 m at the Open National Championships in 1983.

Similarly, Usha also set a new record in the Commonwealth Games as she entered the final. From 1983 to 1989, she has won 13 golds at ATF meets. In the 1986 10th Asian Games, she won four gold and one silver medal.

During the Jakarta Asian Championships in 1985, she won five golds and one bronze. This win made her the only athlete to win five gold medals in a single international meet.

PT Usha announced her retirement in 1990; before her retirement in 1985, the government of India awarded her with Padma Shri. Usha is currently a member of the Board of Advisors of India’s International Movement to Unite Nations.

2. Sania Mirza

On our second rank of the famous Indian athletes is Sania Mirza, a professional tennis player. 35 year-old Mirza was born in Mumbai, Maharastra. She is also a former doubles world No.1.

Mirza started her professional tennis journey in 2003. Her father trained her, and she won 10 singles and 13 double titles in her junior years.

After making her senior debut, Mirza has made notable wins over world-famous players like Martina Hingis, Dinara Safina, and Victoria Azarenka.

Mirza has won a singles title and also a Grand Slam title. Mirza is one of the only two Indian female tennis players to win a WTA title of any kind. Similarly, she is the third Indian woman and second to feature and win a round in Grand Slam.

Sania_Mirza_at_Citi_Open_Tennis_Finals_2011
Sania Mirza at Citi Open Tennis Finals 2011 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

There are many records and achievements that Mirza has allotted during her playing career. She has won 14 medals at the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, and the Afro-Asian Games.

In the 2005 October edition of the Times, Mirza was named one of the “50 Heroes of Asia.” Similarly, she is also on the list of the “33 women who made India proud” in the 2010 March edition of The Economic Times.

In 2013, Mirza was appointed as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia. Likewise, she was listed among the 100 most influential people in the world in the 2016 Time magazine.

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1. Virat Kohli

We will be closing off our list of famous Indian athletes with the test captain of the Indian national cricket team, Virat Kohli. 33 year-old Kohli was born in Delhi and often considered one of the best cricket players of all time.

Kohli made his cricket debut playing for Delhi in the 2002 Polly Umrigar Trophy in an Under-15 team. Virat made his first-class debut against Tamil Nadu, while in 2007, he made his Twenty20 debut. In 2011, Kohli made his Test debut.

Kohli is one of the top batsmen of India. Some of his records include being the fastest player to make 23,000 international runs, and he also is one of the fastest batsmen to make 5,000 runs in ODI cricket.

Virat_Kohli_2015
Virat Kohli in 2015 (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Aside from his records, Kohll has been the recipient of numerous awards. For instance, he became the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the world in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Similarly, he has also been ranked as one of the world’s most famous athletes by ESPN and Forbes’s most valuable athlete brand.

Likewise, Times magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018. In 2020, Forbes ranked him 66th on the list of the top 100 highest-paid athletes in the year 2020.

Kohli was awarded the Arjuna Awards in 2013. In addition, he was awarded Padma Shri in 2017 and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2018.

Conclusion

These famous Indian athletes have proved that India is the birthplace of some of the most outstanding sportspersons in the world. These players have dedicated their lives to bring glory to their country.

Although from various fields, these athletes are some of the best in their respective sports. We hope this list has provided you with a little better knowledge about these Indian athletes.

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