Bharat Ratna award is the most prestigious award and the highest civilian award of India. This was instituted on 2nd January 1954 and is awarded to the people with outstanding performance in their respective fields. Till today only 48 people had the honor of receiving this prestigious award. In this list of awardees, only one Indian athlete had the honor of receiving the Bharat Ratna award. Sachin Tendulkar is that one Indian athlete who received the Bharat Ratna on 4th February 2014. India is a country that celebrates and plays hundreds of sports but it is mostly dominated by cricket. There are many Indian athletes from different sports backgrounds who deserve India’s highest civilian award for their never-ending contribution in their respective fields. Let’s take a look at the 10 Indian athletes who could have won the Bharat Ratna.
1. Dhyan Chand
No matter if you follow hockey or not, you definitely know the name, Dhyan Chand. Dhyan Chand is the greatest hockey player in hockey history. The former hockey player represented India at the Olympics 3 times and won the gold medal every time at the Olympics. India won the first Olympic gold medal in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games where he scored the highest number of goals. His participation in the 1932 Olympics was also one of his most memorable matches. India defeated the USA in the final by 24-1 and he led the Indian team in the Olympics. The 1936 Berlin Olympics is undoubtedly one of his unforgettable moments because Adolf Hitler offered him German citizenship after watching his brilliant goal-scoring expertise. In many different tournaments, he represented India on international levels and succeeded with flying colours. He is definitely an awardee of the Bharat Ratna award.
2. Mary Kom
Mary Kom is undoubtedly the greatest and the best women athlete in India. She has won 18 World Championship medals including 6 gold medals and won 1 bronze medal at the Olympics. Her story is inspiring and influencing for each and every girl and woman out there. Starting from Manipur to reaching the highest places, breaking stereotypes, struggling, and working hard, Mary Kom did all of these glorify the name of India globally. Boxing is sometimes considered a male-dominated sport, yet she ruled and conquered in that field even after her pregnancy. She is an awardee of the Padma Vibhushan and Arjuna Award. Her expertise contribution and journey are absolutely worthy of receiving the highest civilian award of India.
3. Leander Paes
When India’s name comes in the global list of tennis, always remember one of the players responsible for this success is Leander Paes. He has made his name as being one of the greatest tennis players in doubles. He holds the record of becoming the first Indian tennis player to win an Olympic medal. In the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, he won the bronze medal.
He competed in all the Olympic games from 1992 to 2006 and became the first Indian tennis player to play at 7 Olympic games. Also so he made a record of winning the most doubles in the Davis Cup. He was also named the male MVP for 2009 and 2011 of World team tennis. His contribution to the sport is unmeasurable and for this, he has received prestigious awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Arjuna Award, Padma Shri award, and Padma Bhushan award. There is hardly any reason why he should not receive the Bharat Ratna award.
4. Viswanathan Anand
The first-ever Indian chess player to attend the title of Grand Master is Vishwanathan Anand. He achieved the title in 1988. He is the highest-ranked Indian chess player even at 51 years of age. India won the first-ever gold in the Chess Olympiad and Anand played a huge role in it. The chess wizard contributed enormously and is still continuing to do so. He is one of the leading players in the world for about two decades now. He is one of the few players to cross the 2800 Elo points mark. Arvind has been awarded Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Padma Bhushan, and Padma Vibhushan and there is no wrong in saying that he is one of the Indian athletes who have won the Bharat Ratna.
5. PT Usha
The representation of Indian women in sports is rising steadily and one of the women who has contributed the most in the initial years for the women representation is P.T. Usha. She is one of the greatest athletes of India and also called “the queen of track and field”. She represented India 3 times in the Olympics and in many other prestigious tournaments like Asian Championships, Asian Games, and World Cup. The legend received innumerable gold medals and glorified India globally. She has been honored with Padma Shri in 1985 and she is one of those Indian athletes who could have won the Bharat Ratna Award for her achievements as well as her blood, sweat, and contribution.
6. Abhinav Bindra
Abhinav Bindra is the only athlete to win an individual Olympic gold for India. He is well known for his calm nature at the shooting range. Indian athletes got inspired and believed in themselves more when Arvind won the gold medal in the 10m air rifle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His win started a revolution in the country that lead to improvement and change within the Indian athletes. He also became the first shooter to hold the Olympics and Championship. Within a span of a 22-year career, he won more than 150 medals. Apart from the Olympics, he showed impecable performance involved Asian Shooting Championships, Commonwealth Games, and Asian games. He also won 9 medals in the commonwealth games and 3 gold medals in the Asian Games. In 2018 who was awarded the Blue cross. He also received Arjuna Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, and Padma Bhushan.
7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
One does not have to be a cricket fanatic to know about Mahendra Singh Dhoni. In a country like India where cricket is treated like religion, he built up the strongest and the most undestroyable cricket team. He is the only captain to win all three ICC trophies. The former captain proved his expertise with the bat, behind the stumps, and leading the team. He is one of the strongest pillars of the Indian cricket team even after his retirement. The way he captained and taught his teammates will help the teammates in the future as well. His contribution in cricket is overpouring and he definitely could win the Bharat Ratna award.
8. Pankaj Advani
Pankaj Advani is the 23-time World Champion from India. These 23 World Championship titles include 1 IBSF World Team Championship, 1 IBSF World Team Cup, 1 World Team Billiards Championship, 2 IBSF World Snooker Championship (6 Reds), 3 IBSF World Snooker Championship (15 Reds), and 15 IBSF World Billiards Championship. He started playing snooker at a very young age of 10. Pankaj is the only athlete to win the Asian and ball championships in all formats of billboards and snooker. He has also won a 5 time Asian Games champion and two gold medals in the Asian Games.
9. Mihir Sen
The representation of Indian swimmers in the world is lesser. We Indians do not have a lot to acknowledge about swimming but there are some things that Mihir Sen contributed to glorifying India’s name at the world level of swimming. He became the first Indian to cross any sea of note by crossing the English Channel. Not only that he also became the first person to cross seven seas across 5 continents. He is also the first Asian to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. In dangerous situations like sharks and sea snakes in, he swam more than 600 km all around. He is the most impactful person to put India on the global list of swimming.
10. Sunil Gavaskar
It doesn’t matter if you are a millennial or Gen Z or above the age of these groups, you have surely heard about Sunil Gavaskar or watched him play. He is the record holder of many firsts in cricket history. The first cricketer to cross 10,000 test runs, the first cricketer to score more than Donald Bradman’s 29 test centuries. He was a pivotal part of the Indian team in the 1983 World Cup. He was a terrific test player and scored loads of runs to win matches.
As soon as he started debuting, he started creating records. He scored the highest runs of 774 which is the most by a debutant. Gavaskar also holds the record of scoring the most number of France by any player in a Test series with 774 runs. His contribution and records are clearly uncountable and that is why we think that he is one of the Indian athletes who could have won the Bharat Ratna.