There was a time when female sportswomen were unheard of in India. But, times have changed now, women from India are making their presence felt in the international sports circuit. Here, is a list of some of the most famous sportswomen of India who have made us proud with their dedication and achievements.
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#1. P.T. Usha
Nicknamed as Payyoli Express, udanpari and Golden Girl because of her incredible speed on the racetrack, P.T. Usha is the sprint queen of India and one of the best athletes our country has produced till date. Even today, her impressive track record in the world of athletics remains unmatched by any other athlete in the world. The lady continues to inspire the younger generation of Indian athletes at her school named Usha School of Athletics in Kerala.
#2. Sania Mirza
Occcupying the No. 1 position in the women’s doubles ranking since 2015, the tennis star has always made us proud with her accolades. She is the only Indian woman to ever win a Grand Slam title, surpass the US$1 million mark in career earnings and put India on the forefront in the women’s tennis circuit. This fiery beauty from Hyderabad continues to be a source of inspiration to the young guns of India.
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#3. Saina Nehwal
Another pretty lass from Hyderabad, Saina Nehwal is a promising young badminton player with a number of prestigious wins to her credit. From being the first woman from India to hold the No. 1 position in badminton to winning the silver medal in the finals of World Badminton Championships in 2015, the player has set a marvellous example before the young girls of India.
#4. MC Mary Kom
Hailing from the beautiful city of Manipur, Mary is one of the finest female boxers in India and the only woman to win a medal in each one of the six world championships. In her many firsts, she is also the first amateur athlete to receive the prestigious Padma Bhushan award. She even had a biopic made on her by director, Omung Kumar (produced by legendary director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali). Mary is a true inspiration to all those women who want to have a successful career as well as manage the household.
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#5. Mithali Raj
Who says girls cannot play cricket? Mithali Raj, known as the ‘Tendulkar of Women’ s Cricket’ as well as ‘Lady Sachin’, is the second woman cricketer in the world to score 5000 runs in One Day International Cricket. She also held the record for making the highest score in Women’s Test cricket matches till 2004, and being the first woman from India and Asia to score a double hundred in tests.
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#6. Saba Anjum Karim
A former captain of the Indian women’s hockey team, Saba Anjum is someone who has time and again made our country proud. Recipient of Padma Sri award, Karim has represented India in many international hockey tournaments and was also a part of the team that won gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
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#7. Anjali Bhagwat
Lovingly known as ‘Arjuna of India’ and ‘Indian Shooting Queen’, Anjali Bhagwat was the first woman to take up shooting. The Marathi mulgi has won 55 gold medals, including 12 at the Commonwealth Games in her spectacular career. Currently, the 45-year-old is busy training the newcomers.
#8. Tania Sachdev
Holding prestigious titles in the game of chess like the ‘Woman Grandmaster’ and ‘International Master’, Tania Sachdev is an amazing combination of beauty and brains. She won her first international title playing chess when she was just eight years old. She is even the receiver of the prestigious Arjuna award.
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#9. Dipika Pallikal
The gorgeous Malayali beauty is the first Indian Squash player to have reached the top 10 position in the WSA rankings. In the Commonwealth Games held in 2014, Dipika along with Joshna Chinappa won gold medal in the squash women’s doubles event, making it the first ever Commonwealth Games medal in this sport.
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#10. Heena Sidhu
Meet the ace shooter Heena Sidhu, a young and beautiful Patiala woman loaded with talent. Heena is not just great with shooting pistols, but is also a professional dentist. She is the first Indian pistol shooter to reach the topmost position in world ranking and win a gold medal in 2013 ISSF World Cup Finals.
#11. Arunima Sinha
The 27-year-old Arunima Sinha is courage personified. She is former national level volleyball and football player, who did not lose heart despite losing a limb in an accident where she was pushed by the thieves from a running train. Arunima is the first female as well as Indian amputee in the world to scale the mammoth Mt. Everest. She is an inspiration to millions of people out there in the world.
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#12. Geeta Phogat
This Haryanvi girl is a wrestler who was the first one to win gold medal in women’s wrestling in the 55kg freestyle category at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Coming from a family of wrestlers, this game is in her blood and even her sisters are part of the national team. In fact, actor Aamir Khan’s new movie Dangal is based upon the life of Geeta Phogat.
#13. Jwala Gutta
Considered to be very dangerous at the net, Jwala Gutta is an aggressive badminton player who has brought home a number of medals and praises for the country. She has been representing India on the international circuit for more than 15 years now in the doubles event. Along with her doubles partner Ashwini Ponappa, they became a household name after winning the first ever gold medal in the women’s doubles at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games. She is the first player to be ranked in the top 10 of the world rankings in both mixed doubles and doubles category in 2015.
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#14. Humpy Koneru
She is another great woman chess player from India to have earned prestigious titles like ‘Asia’s Youngest Woman International Master’ and ‘India’s Youngest Woman Grandmaster’. In 2002, Koneru was the youngest woman ever to achieve the title of grandmaster, in both men and women category, at the age of 15 years and she held onto that title till 2008. She has won several gold and bronze medals in various championships.
#15. Prachi Tehlan
Under the captaincy of a very young Indian netball and basketball player Prachi Tehlan, India had the privilege to win its first ever gold medal in South Asian Beach games in the year 2011. The six feet plus beauty is not only a superb netball player, but also an excellent basketball player. But, unfortunately she was forced to quit the sport in 2011 due to lack of good facilities. At present, you would find her playing the role of “Arzoo” in the popular TV series Diya Aur Baati Hum.
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The list does not end here, there are many more young women who would shine through in the upcoming years. And nonetheless to say we would be very proud of them too!