HomeSportsNational Sports Day: Everything you need to know about Sports in India

National Sports Day: Everything you need to know about Sports in India

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29th August is celebrated as the National Sports Day in India. Unfortunately, it is not the most celebrated day in a country which is still learning to look beyond Cricket in the field of sports. But why do we celebrate this special occasion? Let’s get to know more about National Sports Day and take a glimpse at India’s achievements on this special day…

Why 29th August?

National Sports Day
National Sports Day | Credits Hindustan Times

That should be the first question – Why 29th August, of all days, is celebrated as the National Sports Day? Well, it is the birth anniversary of India’s one of the most celebrated sportsperson and arguably the best hockey player – Major Dhyan Chand.

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Dhyan Chand, known as ‘The Wizard’ due to his exceptional ball control, was born on 29th August 1905 in Allahabad. The centre-forward played a pivotal role in India’s first three consecutive Olympic gold medals in hockey – 1928, 1932 and 1936. In fact, the legend goes that after India thrashed Germany 8-1 in the final of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler was so impressed with Dhyan Chand’s performances that he offered him to join the Nazi Germany army. Of course, the Wizard denied it.

The legendary hockey player scored 570 goals in 185 matches in his illustrious career of 23 years. The Government of India honoured Dhyan Chand’s achievements by declaring 29th August as the National Sports Day in 2012 – And rightly so!


National Sports Day
National Sports Day | Credits India Today
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Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award, and Major Dhyan Chand Award are the sports-related awards given by the Government of India. And what better day than National Sports Day to felicitate the winners of this award? The President of India presents this award to the winners in a special ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on 29th August every year.

Winners for 2020

Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award

It is the highest award in the field of sports in India. The award was introduced in 1991-1992 and Chess legend, Viswanathan Anand was its first recipient. Deepa Malik will become the first female para-athlete to receive the prestigious Khel Ratna Award. Here are the winners for 2020:

Sr. No.AthleteSport
1.Rohit SharmaCricket
2.Mariyappan ThangaveluPara Athletics
3.Manika BatraTable Tennis
4.Vinesh PhogatWrestling
5.Rani RampalHockey

Arjuna Award

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Awarded for outstanding achievements in sports, the award was started in 1961. It is the second-highest award in the field of sports in India.

Sr. No.PlayerSport
1.Atanu DasArchery
2.Dutee ChandAthletics
3.Satwik Sairaj RankireddyBadminton
4.Chirag Chandrasekhar ShettyBadminton
5.Vishesh BhriguvanshiBasketball
6.Manish KaushikBoxing
7.Lovlina BorgohainBoxing
8.Ishant SharmaCricket
9.Deepti SharmaCricket
10.Sawant Ajay AnantEquestrian
11.Sandesh JhinganFootball
12.Aditi AshokGolf
13.Akashdeep SinghHockey
16.Kale Sarika SudhakarKho Kho
17.Dattu Baban BhokanalRowing
18.Manu BhakerShooting
19.Saurabh ChaudharyShooting
20.Madhurika Suhas PatkarTable Tennis
21.Divij SharanTennis
22.Shiva KeshavanWinter Sports
23.Divya KakranWrestling
24.Rahul AwareWrestling
25.Suyash Narayan JadhavPara-Swimming
26.SandeepPara Athletics
27.Manish NarwalPara Shooting

Dronacharya Award

Awarded to coaches who have done an exceptional job in the past few years, Dronacharya Award was started in 1985. It is divided into two categories – regular and lifetime achievements.

Life Time Category: 

Sr. No.CoachSport
1.Dharmendra TiwaryArchery
2.Purushotham RaiAthletics
3.Shiv SinghBoxing
4.Romesh PathaniaHockey
5.Krishan Kumar HoodaKabaddi
6.Vijay Bhalchandra MunishwarPara Powerlifting
7.Naresh KumarTennis
8.Om Parkash DahiyaWrestling

Regular Category

Sr. No.Name of the CoachSport
1.Jude Felix SebastianHockey
2.Yogesh MalviyaMallakhamb
3.Jaspal RanaShooting
4.Kuldeep Kumar HandooWushu
5.Gaurav KhannaPara Badminton

Dhyan Chand Award

Dhyan Chand Award is given for lifetime achievements in sports, and it was introduced in 2002.

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Sr. No.AthleteSport
1.Kuldip Singh BhullarAthletics
2.Jincy PhilipsAthletics
3.Pradeep Shrikrishna GandheBadminton
4.Trupti MurgundeBadminton
5.N. UshaBoxing
6.Lakha SinghBoxing
7.Sukhvinder Singh SandhuFootball
8.Ajit SinghHockey
9.Manpreet SinghKabaddi
10.J. Ranjith KumarPara Athletics
11.Satyaprakash TiwariPara-Badminton
12.Manjeet SinghRowing
13.Shri Sachin NagSwimming
14.Nandan P BalTennis
15.Netarpal HoodaWrestling

The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports

National Sports Day
National Sports Day | Credits Inside Sports

The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports looks after the sports in India. In Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term, Kiren Rijiju is the current minister of Sports. The Government has undertaken several initiatives for the development of sports in the country. The Indian government has also provided jobs to several athletes to help them financially.

Amongst some of the important schemes, Target Olympic Podium Scheme was introduced in 2015 with an eye on increasing the number of medallists at the upcoming Olympics. The Government of India launched the Khelo India Youth Games in 2018. In these games, athletes from various parts of the city are provided with a platform to showcase their talent. The Games are conducted for U17, and U21 category and best 1000 students are given the sports scholarship of ₹5,00,000 per year for eight years in order to prepare them for the international stage.

India’s Achievements at the International Level

India is a country of 1.3 billion people, which is almost 17% of the world population. We are second in the list of highest population and yet we are nowhere near the powerhouse in sports. Something is definitely not clicking, is it?

But that is a topic of discussion for some other time. On the occasion of National Sports Day, let us take a look at India’s achievements in sports in the past.


Credits India Today

India has won a total of 28 medals at the Olympics in 34 appearances – Less than a medal at each event.

Norman Pritchard1900AthleticsMen’s 200mSilver
Norman Pritchard1900AthleticsMen’s 200m HurdlesSilver
Indian Hockey Team1928Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Indian Hockey Team1932Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Indian Hockey Team1936Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Indian Hockey Team1948Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Indian Hockey Team1952Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Khashaba Jadhav1952WrestlingMen’s Freestyle BantamweightBronze
Indian Hockey Team1956Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Indian Hockey Team1960Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionSilver
Indian Hockey Team1964Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Indian Hockey Team1968Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionBronze
Indian Hockey Team1972Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionBronze
Indian Hockey Team1980Field HockeyMen’s CompetitionGold
Leander Paes1996TennisMen’s SinglesBronze
Karnam Malleswari2000WeightliftingWomen’s 69 kgBronze
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore2004ShootingMen’s Double TrapSilver
Abhinav Bindra2008ShootingMen’s 10m Air RifleGold
Vijender Singh2008BoxingMiddleweightBronze
Sushil Kumar2008WrestlingMen’s Freestyle 66 kgBronze
Vijay Kumar2012ShootingMen’s 25 Rapid Fire PistolSilver
Sushil Kumar2012WrestlingMen’s Freestyle 66 kgSilver
Saina Nehwal2012BadmintonWomen’s SinglesBronze
Mary Kom2012BoxingWomen’s FlyweightBronze
Gagan Narang2012ShootingMen’s 10m Air RifleBronze
Yogeshwar Dutt2012WrestlingMen’s Freestyle 60 kgBronze
PV Sindhu2016BadmintonWomen’s SinglesSilver
Sakshi Malik2016WrestlingWomen’s Freestyle 58 kgBronze


Murlikant Petkar1972SwimmingMen’s 50m Freestyle 3Gold
Bhimrao Kesarkar1984AthleticsMen’s Javelin L6Silver
Joginder Singh Bedi1984AthleticsMen’s Shot Put L6Silver
Joginder Singh Bedi1984AthleticsMen’s Javelin L6Bronze
Joginder Singh Bedi1984AthleticsMen’s Discus Throw L6Bronze
Devendra Jhajharia2004AthleticsMen’s Javelin F44/46Gold
Rajinder Singh Rahelu2004PowerliftingMen’s 56 kgBronze
Girisha Nagarajegowda2012AthleticsMen’s High Jump F42Silver
Mariyappan Thangavelu2016AthleticsMen’s High Jump F42Gold
Devendra Jhajharia2016AthleticsMen’s Javelin F46Gold
Deepa Malik2016AthleticsWomen’s Shot Put F53Silver
Varun Singh Bhati2016AthleticsMen’s High Jump F42Bronze

Team World Championships

Credits Hindustan Times

Apart from the Olympics, where India has performed exceptionally below average, the nation has managed to bring home a number of World Championships.

Cricket, the most famous sport in India, has been the heart and soul of the country for years. India’s first World Cup triumph in Cricket came in 1983 as Kapil Dev led the nation to one of the impossible victories. The country had to wait another 28 years for the second World Cup. MS Dhoni-led Indian team won the 2011 World Cup and became the first team to win the Cricket WC on the home soil.

Apart from two World Cup in ODI, India has also won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and Champions Trophy in 2002 and 2013. India has won the U19 World Cup on four occasions, most by any country.

India has also won the Hockey World Cup once, in 1975 where they defeated arch-rivals Pakistan 2-1 in the final. And when it comes to Kabaddi, India is the best team and have won all three World Cups played so far.


Credits Chess Base India

Viswanathan Anand is, without a doubt, the best Indian Chess player. The 49-year old dominated the world of Chess for more than a decade and put India on the map. Due to his World Championship titles and fame which followed, Chess became one of the most popular sports in India.

Anand is a six-time World Champion and two times Rapid Chess Champion. He was the undisputed champion for six years, from 2007 to 2013. The legendary Vishy is considered as one of the greatest rapid players of all time.


Credits India Today

Apart from Leander Paes’s bronze medal at the 1996 Olympics, India has done well in Grand Slams thanks to the veteran, his partners Mahesh Bhupati, Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna. Vijay Amritraj put India on the map in Tennis in the 1970s, but the Chennai-born failed to win any Grand Slam titles.

India’s first Grand Slam title came at the 1997 French Open as Mahesh Bhupati paired with Japan’s Rika Hiraki to win the mixed doubles final.

India’s Record at Grand Slams so far

EventAustralian OpenFrench OpenWimbledonUS OpenTotal
Men’s Doubles13149
Women’s Doubles1113
Mixed Doubles536418


PlayerGrand Slam Titles
Leander Paes18 (8 Men’s Dobles and 10 Mixed Doubles)
Mahesh Bhupati12(4 Men’s Doubles and 8 Mixed Doubles)
Sania Mirza6 (3 Women’s Doubles and 3 Mixed Doubles)
Rohan Bopanna1 (Mixed Doubles)


Franchise-based League

Pro Kabaddi League 2019 KreedOn

Introduction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) was well and truly the revolutionary moment for sports in India. IPL helped Cricket in India, which was already in an excellent condition but it gave an idea to other games to start the similar franchise-based leagues.

And it has worked out great for a number of sports which have started leagues based on similar themes. Kabaddi has been the biggest beneficiary of this format, as Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), now in its seventh season is the second most popular league behind IPL.

Indian Super League was introduced in 2013 for the growth football in the country. And so far, the league has done well to increase the popularity of the game. On similar themes, Premier Badminton League, UBA Pro Basketball League, Pro Wrestling League, Ultimate Table Tennis, Pro Volleyball League are some of the newly launched leagues.

With a number of leagues introduced, players have found a platform to showcase their talent while also getting rewarded for their performances. With the leagues been broadcasted on TV and a host of brand endorsing it, the money has also started flowing in the pockets of players, and they are getting the recognition they deserve.

What’s Next?

It’s not like anyone is trying to replace Cricket from the top. Cricket is the most famous sport in India, and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. But with the introduction of new leagues and Government’s various schemes, people are starting to realise that there is, in fact, more to sports than just cricket. With success stories of athletes like Hima Das, PV Sindhu and many more, the young generation is starting to aspire to become the next PV Sindhu instead of just next Tendulkar or Dhoni. Parents are ready to send their kids to any sports coaching they want – And all this is a big step in the right direction!

We might not have a great population to Olympic medals ratio at the moment, but with time, we will be there. We might not have participated in any of the FIFA World Cups so far, but with the efforts that are being put to improve the Blue Tigers, it is only a matter of time before we hear ‘Jana Gana Mana’ against, say, Spain or Brazil.

So let us celebrate this National Sports Day wishing our star athletes all the luck in the world for next year’s Tokyo Olympics. Because trust me, they will make us proud by the time the next National Sports Day arrives!

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Chinmay Pagar
I might be a Mechanical Engineer on the paper, but I was a Sports enthusiast since childhood, screaming at the TV watching cricket at the age of 4. Not much excites me other than sports unless it's free pizza. I can watch literally anything remotely related to sports; Cricket, Football, Tennis, F1, Hockey, Athletics, Chess, you name it! And I love to write too, so at the time I'm not watching sports, I'm writing about it. Or eating pizzas, of course.


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