Sports in India has always been associated with men. Women living in this country are not encouraged to actively participate in sports! The conditions of women in India who take up sports are sub-par when we examine it at the international level. Below is a list of top 15 female celebrities in Indian sports who have reached the top against odds and also made us proud.
1. Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal is also known as the golden girl of Indian badminton. She has reached the zenith of sports by making it to the top three badminton players in the world. Her career began in 2012 where she shot to the 5th position in the World Badminton players list. She has won the Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold, Thai Open Grand Prix Gold, and the Indonesian Open Super Series. Her claim to fame was winning a bronze medal at the Olympics!
2. MC Mary Kom
MC Mary Kom is also known as the “Million Rupee Baby” in India. This tough lady is a five-time boxing world champion and also has an Olympic Bronze medal in her kitty. Mary Kom is the first lady boxer to have won the bronze medal at the London Olympics for India.
3. PV Sindhu
PV Sindhu is the rising star in the world of badminton! She has already carved a niche for herself in the world of sports after her performance in the London 2012 Olympics. She defeated Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui of China during the China Master Super Series Tournament to enter semi-finals. She made it to her maiden finals of the Indian Grand Prix Gold Event where she lost to Yanjiao Jiang of China. PV Sindhu is the national champion in India and has been a semi-finalist at the Malaysian Open. She recently won a silver medal at 2017 BWF World Championships and is the first Indian woman to win 2017 Korean Open Super Series.
4. Bula Choudhury
Bula Choudhury is a swimming champion, the first woman to cross all the seven seas, and recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award and Padma Shri. She also crossed the English channel twice and is truly the embodiment of women’s physical and mental strength. She was also elected as MLA (2006-2011) in West Bengal. She plans to open a swimming academy in Kolkata to train and sponsor swimmers who otherwise do not get a chance to showcase their potential.
5. Mithali Raj
Captain of Indian Women’s cricket team for ODI and Tests, Mithali Dorai Raj is one of the best batters and is the highest run scorer in women’s international cricket. She is also the only woman to score more than 6000 runs in ODIs and to score consecutive seven 50s in ODIs. In the year 2003, Mithali Dorai raj received the Arjuna Award and in 2015, she was awarded Padma Shri.
6. Geeta Phogat
Geeta Phogat is an Indian freestyle wrestler who won India’s first gold medal in wrestling at Commonwealth Games (2010). She is the first Indian sportswoman to qualify for the Olympic Summer Games. This tough go-getter has won a gold medal in the Wrestling FILA Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament that took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2012. In 2013, Geeta Phogat won a bronze medal in Asian Wrestling Championship in Doha.
7. Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza remains one of the most recognized faces in Indian sports! From 2003 to 2013, Sania Mirza was India’s No. 1 tennis player as per Women’s Tennis Association. This sports star has been in and out of her game due to serious injuries. Sania made a huge comeback at the French Open with her tennis partner Mahesh Bhupathi. All in all, this lady will always be remembered as a woman who made Indians proud and played some kickass shots that helped her win against former world No.1 tennis player, Martina Hingis.
8. Deepika Kumari
Deepika Kumari, an ace archer, has a rating of World No. 2. This superstar won a gold medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in the category of women’s individual recurve event. She won another gold medal in the same event in the team’s category! Deepika finished at the 8th position during the London Olympics, 2012.
9. Akanksha Singh
Akanksha Singh is the captain of India Women’s National Basketball Team. In 2010, Akanksha Singh was recognized as the Most Valuable Player in Professional Basketball League. This A grade player is also known as the small wonder in basketball. She has been playing since her childhood and is the most talented basketball players in the country.
10. Chhanda Gayen
The bold and the beautiful Chhanda Gayen was a mountaineer and was the first civilian woman to climb the summit of Mount Everest in 2013. She was inspired at a very young age by her trekker mother and did a basic rock climbing training from Institute of Exploration followed by a standard course and another basic mountaineering course from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (Darjeeling). Unfortunately, Chhanda, along with two sherpas died in an avalanche while descending Mount Kangchenjunga in 2014. Chhanda Gayen will continue to be an inspiration for all of us, sportswoman or not.
11. Tanya Sachdeva
Tanya Sachdev is an Indian chess player who holds International Master and Woman Grandmaster titles. She has won several silver and bronze medals in various championships. She is also a chess commentator and presenter.
12. Dipika Pallikal
Dipika Pallikal is the first squash player from India to have climbed into the top 20 positions in the WSA ratings. This girl won 3 WISPA tour titles in the year of 2011. She attained the best ranking at 10th position in 2012. She was also a semi-finalist in Australian Open.
13. Sharmila Nicollet
Sharmila Nicollet is an ace Indo-French golfer from Bangalore. This girl finished in the 17th place at the Lalla Aicha tour school final stage, at the Ladies European Tour. She won a LET card for 2013.
14. Anjali Bhagwat
Anjali Bhagwat is a professional shooter. In 2002, she became world’s number one in 10m Air Rifle. In 2003, she won the World Cup Final in Milan and is the only Indian to win ISSF Champion’s trophy in Air Rifle. She also represented India in three consecutive Olympics and won 12 gold and 4 silver medals in Commonwealth Games. Anjali Bhagwat was awarded Arjuna Award (2000) and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2003).
15. Nameirakpam Kunjarani Devi
Kunjarani Devi is a weightlifter from Imphal, Manipur. She has won numerous gold and silver medals in 44, 46, and 48 kg weightlifting categories. She was awarded Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, and Padma Shri.
So, those were the top 15 female sports celebrities in India. It is a bitter truth that women in India are pulled down by different sports conventions and authorities. It is important that they are encouraged to get into national sports. There are enough resources in our country, and we can actually make it happen. These female celebrity sports stars are role models for young women around the country. Let us encourage the next generation of superstars to emulate these path breakers.