In a country of a billion, making your mark in the pages of history is no easy deed.
Sportspersons face adversity both on and off the field and yet they persevere through it. Today we are going to find out about the inspiring stories of our sporting icons.
These stories will help us remember, that when there is a will, there will always be a way.
1. Anil Kumble, Indian Cricketer
Known for his poised yet match-winning temperament, Anil Kumble has been one of the legends in Indian Cricket.
A B.E. graduate, Kumble made his ODI and Test debut in the year 1990. He has won many accolades over the years and defied critics with his headstrong field mentality.
Known for his unconventional bowling style, he has 619 Test wickets and has been named Cricketer of The Year by Indian Cricket and Wisden. He has also served as the Captain and Head Coach of the national cricket team.
Having struggled with form on many occasions, he has always been able to bounce back and convinced naysayers of his true cricketing class.
In a now legendary Test match encounter with the West Indies in 2002, Kumble fractured his jaw while facing a ball from Mervyn Dillon. However, he refused to give up and bowled throughout the match with a broken jaw and even got Brian Lara out by lbw. His resilience and fighting spirit are the reason cricket is called the “Gentleman’s Game.”
Anil Kumble’s Tenvic Cricket Academy is part of our ChildCentric® Homes and enables children to learn from the best.
2. Mary Kom, Indian Amateur Boxer
Mary Kom is an Indian amateur boxing legend who is the only female to have won the World Amateur Boxing Champion title 6 times. Mary holds the record of the highest championship medals (8) among both male and female categories.
Often called Magnificent Mary, she was awarded the Bronze medal for her performance in 2012 Summer Olympics. She has also been awarded golds in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2014 Asian Games.
Born in rural Manipur, Mary has had a long struggle to achieve the position she has today. Born to tenant farmers in a village that was little known before her, today, Padma Vibhushan Mary Kom is a name to be reckoned with around the world.
During her early days, Mary was into athletics, football, and hockey. However, boxing charmed her when local boxer Dingko Singh won the Gold medal at the Asian Games. In spite of their financial challenges and her father’s insistence on not pursuing a boxing career, Mary was relentless in her will and determination.
She is an example of hard work and will power being able to conquer all odds.
3. Dipa Karmakar, Indian Gymnast
History was made at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow when Dipa Karmakar bagged bronze as the first female Indian gymnast.
Karmakar also became the first Indian female gymnast to participate in Olympics in Rio 2016. She finally struck gold at the world stage with her win in the FIG Artistic Gymnastic World Challenge Cup.
Having broken stereotypes and barriers throughout her life, Dipa is one of the only 5 women who have successfully completed the Produnova vault, considered the toughest among all being performed at women’s gymnastics currently.
Being born flat footed, she challenged nature from the tender age of 6 by taking up gymnastics. At one point, a doctor even advised Dipa to not continue her training because of the physical disability. In gymnastics, flat footed people have a clear disadvantage, but it was not enough to deter her. She moved with her coach Biseshwar Nandi to the National Institute of Sports, Patiala and received training that helped her develop arches in her feet. She is and always will be an inspiring personality who shined in spite of all odds.
The Academy of Gymnastics by Dipa Karmakar is all set to inspire the next generation of gymnasts at Gera’s ChildCentric®Homes.
4. Bhaichung Bhutia, Indian Footballer
Nicknamed the Sikkimese Sniper, Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia is considered a torchbearer for the nation on the world stage.
Having become the first Indian footballer to have signed in an International Club, Bhaichung played for the European club Bury in 1999.
Born to Sikkimese farmers, Bhutia had to jump over many hurdles to get his parents to acknowledge his interest in sports. Having come from a state that is seldom in national limelight, Bhaichung through his talent and hard work was able to get a football scholarship at SAI and attend the Tashi Namgyal Academy.
He finally established himself as the most promising prospect in Subroto Cup, 1992 when he was awarded the Best Player and received the adulation of veteran goalkeeper Bhaskar Ganguly.
After he turned professional, he was considered an untouchable player for East Bengal, having garnered support and aspiration from club fans.
He has led India to victories in the AFC Challenge Cup, Nehru Cup, LG Cup, and the SAFF Championship. Bhaichung Bhutia is testimony to the importance of hard work and diligence to achieve one’s destiny.
Bhaichung Bhutia Football School is part of Gera’s ChildCentric®Homes and offers children world-class training within the residential premises.
5. Geeta Phogat, Indian Amateur Wrestler
Born into a wrestling family, Geeta Phogat is the first Indian woman to qualify in the Summer Olympics and win gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
Known for her dominant freestyle wrestling, Phogat’s story has been dramatized and turned into one of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters with Dangal. She faced numerous challenges in becoming one of the first popular female wrestlers, since the culture of the sport is male dominated in the country. Yet, she was able to prove her mettle even in boys’ wrestling during her younger days while training with her father, Mahavir Singh Phogat.
Today, she is not only involved in wrestling but also moving towards the world of TV with appearances in Indian Fear Factor, Big Boss, and Nach Baliye. Her inspiring story of bringing female wrestling glory to India will motivate youngsters for years to come.
6. Mahesh Bhupathi, Indian Tennis Player
In 1997, Mahesh Bhupathi became the first Indian to win a Grand Slam doubles title. He is also one among only 8 individuals to have achieved a Career Grand Slam in mixed doubles.
Having been raised in the Middle East during his early years, Bhupathi has shared inspiring stories of his hard work at tennis and the sacrifices his family has had to make. Even during his career, he had to go through several surgeries to relieve injuries and yet bounced back to top form every time.
Bhupathi’s impressive feats have made him a flagbearer of tennis in India. Having popularized the sport with his winning ways, his contributions on and off the court have been significant, with him founding the International Premiere Tennis League.
As an aggressive fore court player, Mahesh Bhupathi has truly paved the way for thousands of youngsters who want show their spirit on the court.
We are happy to bring the Mahesh Bhupathi Tennis Academies at our ChildCentric® Homes’ campuses to enable young children attain tennis glory.
7. Abhinav Bindra, Indian Air Rifle Shooter
When it comes to individual Olympic performances, only one name stands above all clad in Golden glory – Abhinav Bindra.
In 2008, Bindra became the first individual Olympic gold medalist for India and the first gold winner since 1980, with his remarkable performance at the 10m air rifle shooting. He also has 9 Commonwealth Game medals and 3 Asian Games gold medals.
While Bindra was able to create history with his individual gold at just 25, it came at the cost of insurmountable determination. Having picked shooting early in his life, Bindra would train for several years in Germany to perfect his technique and avail the best technology for his training.
However, his Olympic success led to a lack of motivation in him and he later discussed how success was tougher to deal with; his advice to everyone out there was simple – “You start missing the process after a while, and as long as you love what you do, it will keep pushing you. That’s what happened to me.”
It is no surprise that all of these sporting stalwarts have done remarkably to bring glory to their country and teams. They have paved the way for many after them to remember their deeds and never lose hope in the face of adversity.
If we too can imbibe their can-do spirit, our goals may not be as far as we think.