In our world of big cricket names, curiously, there still exist many unsung heroes who persevere in sports outside the limelight, winning against all odds. They deliver glory to our country, and their stories exist far away from mainstream media, untold, unheard. We, at India Sports Review, draw inspiration from such resilient sports persons and dedicate this post series to these Indian Heroes.
Here is our tribute to 5 sportspersons that you should know about as an Indian.
1. Jimmy George
Arguably the greatest volleyball player of all time, Jimmy George was a member of the national men's volleyball team back in the 70's and 80's. He played for the Indian team on many occasions, playing the pivotal role in winning during the Asian Games on multiple occasions. The Indian team brought home the bronze medal during the Seoul Asian Games, 1986.
He was born in Kerala to the famous family of the Kudakkachira's and learned to play volleyball from his father. At the age of 16, he started representing his state and soon went on to be a part of the national team.
He was awarded the Arjuna award at 21 and was the first Indian player to go for professional volleyball. He played six seasons in Italy and made a considerable number of international fans during his stint.
Unfortunately, he departed at the age of 32, but even within that short period of time, he made India proud and he will forever be remembered as the greatest Indian volleyball player.
Here's a tribute video energy drink brand Red Bull made for Jimmy George.
2. Makhan Singh:
Milkha Singh is the legend of Indian athletics; and Makhan Singh, the man who beat the legend. It was 1962 National games, where Makhan Singh got the better of the flying Sikh and made a name for himself. Apart from beating Milkha, he won 4 gold medals at the event.
He represented India in the Asian games in the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games and won a gold in relay 4X400m and a silver medal in 400m sprint.
He was a Subedar in the Indian army and retired in 1972. After retirement, he opened a stationery shop and lived a quiet life. He lost his leg to an injury in 1990, and died in extreme poverty in 2002. The government awarded him an Arjuna award for his contributions to the country.
3. Jeev Milkha Singh:
Born in Chandigarh, India to legend Milkha Singh and former Indian women’s volleyball team captain Nirmal Kaur, Jeev became the first golfer from India to join the European Tour in 1998. He is the most successful Indian golfer on tour and the first Indian to reach into top 100 of Official World Golf Ranking.
He announced his arrival into professional golfing in 1993 by winning Southern Oklahoma State Open. Though, Jeev played mainly in Asia where he won 6 Asian Tour titles in his prime. His achievements include 4 European Tour titles, 4 Japanese Golf Tour titles, 6 Asian Tour titles, and 7 other titles on various golfing tours.
Jeev Milkha Singh was awarded Arjuna Award in 1999 and a Padma Shri in 2007. Despite these highest recognitions from the Indian government, his achievements were overshadowed by other sports.
4. Pankaj Advani:
He is an apprentice of Aravind Savur, the former national Snooker champion. Born in Pune, India, Pankaj is indubitably one of the most talented Billiards and Snooker player in the world.
The 19-time Billiards and Snooker World Champion has made India proud in 60 different occasions with his stellar performances.
This includes 19 World titles, 8 Asian Titles, 2 Asian Game Titles, 1 Australian Open Title, and 30 National Titles. To add further glare into his career, Pankaj has also achieved a remarkable feat of holding hat-tricks of championship titles simultaneously in four different years 2005, 2008, 2012, and 2017 (World, Asian, and Indian National Championship Titles).
He was awarded Arjuna Award in 2004, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2006, and Padma Shri in 2009 for his contribution to Indian sports. Yet, how many of you have heard about his achievements on media?