Love, both on and off the field, has its own magic, and as we celebrate Valentine's Day, what better way to revel in the spirit of romance than by exploring the heartwarming tales of Indian sports couples? Beyond the victories and defeats, these athletes have found love in each other, creating a symphony of passion and companionship. In this special feature, we dive into the lives of the Top 8 Indian Sports Couples, unravelling their unique stories that go beyond the sports arena.
The Indian badminton stars are one of the most prominent Indian Sports Couples. Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap met each other through badminton in 1997. But they started meeting each other in 2002 when they trained together in Hyderabad. They started dating in 2004 when they started training under Pullela Gopichand. Though at first, they decided to keep it a secret and appeared in public just as close friends. Finally, they broke out as a couple and got married in 2018.
“We dated for a long, long time. It was childish that we hid it from all our friends. We would be very secretive about it. We were shy and scared," Kashyap said about their early dating life. Both the badminton stars have been a motivating force for their partners through tough times with injuries and forms. Since mid-2018, Kashyap started coaching Saina as well.
Dinesh Karthik and Dipika Pallikal are one of Indian Sports Couples who do not belong to the same sports. Dinesh Karthik, a prominent name in Indian cricket and Dipika Pallikal, one of the best squash players in the country met each other in a gym. Dipika, who did not use to like cricketers due to their popularity, cleared his misconceptions about Indian Cricketers when she started having a friendship with Dinesh. Soon, they started going out and the friendship turned into love.
On 15 November 2013, the couple made their relationship official with an engagement ceremony and later married in 2015 in Chennai. The couple now are blessed with two twin baby boys.
Milkha Singha and Nirmal Kaur were probably the first-ever Indian Sports Couple. Mikha Singh, a sensational track and field athlete met Nirmal Kaur, the then captain of the Indian Volleyball Women's team during a tour in Sri Lanka. “It was in 1957 during the Indo-Ceylon sports meet that I met Nirmal for the first time," Milkha Singh had told The Tribune during an interview.
In 1962, Milkha Singh and Nirmal Kaur got married and they had three daughters and a son. India's golf sensation Jeev Milkha Singh is their son. Both Milkha Singh and Nirmal Kaur passed away in a difference of five days in 2021 due to Covid-19.
The biggest names of Indian Archery, Atanu Das and Deepika Kumari first met each other in 2008 at Tata Academy in Jamshedpur. The early days of their relationship were filled with misunderstandings, communication gaps, and two big egos. Since Atanu was not very good with his Hindi, he never used to talk with Deepika in their early days. “He didn’t know Hindi then, so he wouldn’t talk to me," Deepika told Indian Express in an interview.
Though they used to fight over small things during their time in training, the duo started liking each other during the 2017 World Championships and started going out shopping together. They got engaged the following year and tied the knot on 30 June 2020.
One of the biggest names in Indian Wrestling Bajrang Punia and Sangeet Phogat found their love in their profession. Both wrestlers first met each other at a wrestling camp in Sonepat and started liking each other. Bajrang would send his phone number to Sangeeta expecting to get a reply from her. However, Sangeeta did not reply to her. But, the next day they met each other in training and expressed liking for each other. The wrestlers got married in November 2020.
Pullela Gopichand, the backbone of the Indian badminton revolution found his love in the Badminton court itself. PVV Lakshmi, the 8-time national champion married Gopichand on June 5 2002. Gopichand rose to fame after winning the All England Badminton Championships in 2001 and won the Arjuna Award that year as well. Meanwhile, PVV Lakshmi was the first-ever Indian women shuttler to qualify for the Olympics. She featured in the 1992 & 1996 Olympics.
PVV Lakshmi stood as a pillar of strength for Gopichand when he started building the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad. Lakshmi would help Pullela with some monetary help during their early days of building the academy. They even went on to mortgage their family home to raise money for the academy. They have two children, a daughter named Gayathri and a son named Vishnu. Gayathri is already a rising name in World Badminton.
The queen of Indian Athletics Anju Bobby George and former triple jump National champion come at number seven in our list of Indian Sports Couples. Anju Bobby George was the first Indian to win a medal at the World Athletics Championships when she won the bronze in the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris. At that time Robert used to be her coach and after her historic medal in 2003, Robert won the Dronacharya award in 2004 as well.
It looks like wrestlers find their love in their sport more than often. Sakshi Malik, the Rio Olympic Bronze Medal winner and Satyawart Kadian, a silver medalist in the 2014 Commonwealth Games used to go to the same school as teenagers.
Though Satyawart used to be a heavyweight champion since his early days, she used to always shy away from Sakshi Malik, the star of his school. However, the two started bonding with time and supported each other in tough times. Satyawart missed the Rio Olympics berth by one second but kept on supporting Sakshi even though he was having a tough time personally. They both tied the knot in 2017 after Sakshi's historical medal in 2016.