Maharashtra Tourism salutes the Athletes of Maharashtra who have made the State and Nation proud with their outstanding achievements.
Let’s look at some of these exceptional sportspersons:
Born in Kolhapur, Virdhawal Vikram Khade became the first Indian in 24 years to win a swimming medal at the Asian Games by winning the bronze in 50m butterfly category at the 2010 Asian games. He is the national record holder in the 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m Freestyle swimming events and in the 50m Butterfly. He is also regarded as the youngest ever Indian swimmer to qualify for an Olympics.
Aparna Popat is a former world number 16 in badminton. She holds the distinction for being the only Indian badminton champion to win nine consecutive Nationals (1997-2005) and was the first woman shuttler to represent India at two successive Olympic Games (in 2000 and 2004). She won two single medals and one team medal at the Commonwealth Games and was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2005.
Based in Kolhapur, Tejaswini is a former World Shooting Champion who has won four Gold, three Silver and two Bronze medals while representing India at various competitions. She is a three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist and became the first Indian woman to win gold and become the World Shooting Champion at the World Shooting Championship (2010).
Recently, she along with Sanjeev Rajput won the gold medal in the 50m rifle 3 positions mixed team event of the ISSF World Cup. She received the prestigious Arjuna Award by the Government of India in 2011.
Anjali Bhagwat, from Mumbai, is the first Indian to win three gold medals and a silver medal at the 1999 Commonwealth Championship. She was the first Indian to win a gold medal at an ISSF World Cup, the first shooter to reach an Olympic final and the first Indian to be ranked No 1 in the world. Till date, she has won 31 gold, 23 silver and seven bronze medals. She has also bagged four gold medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the highest for any female shooter for India. Her tally of 55 gold medals in National Competitions is yet to be defeated. She was bestowed with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2003.
Hailing from Pune, Gokhale claimed the Indian National Championship in 2008 and 2012 and was the gold medallist at the 2010 Dhaka South Asian Games in the women’s singles and team events. She is the first woman shuttler to take up coaching as a post-retirement profession.
A Nagpur based boxing sensation, she has been on a medal-winning spree since 2016 when she took the silver in 80 kg at the National School Games and added the gold from the Khelo India Games as well as the Junior Nationals. One of her important feats were when she beat Kazakhstan’s Diana Magauyayeva to bag the gold at the Asian Junior Girls Championship 2019.
She recently won the country’s first gold medal at the 30th Adriatic Pearl tournament in Budva, Montenegro.
Born in Kolhapur, she became the first Indian pistol shooter to win the gold medal in the World Cup. In 2014, she won a Gold medal in a 25m air pistol event at the Commonwealth Games at Glasgow in Scotland. In 2015, Rahi Sarnobat was conferred with Arjuna Award by the Government of India. In 2018, she became the first Indian woman shooter to win Asian Games Gold medal and a year later, she won 2 Gold medals at the ISSF World Cup.
A long-distance runner from Nashik, she holds the current national record for 10 km road running with a timing of 34:32 as well as the current national record in the half marathon with a timing of 1:12:50. She won the bronze medal in 10,000 metres race at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the first individual track medal by an Indian woman athlete at the Commonwealth Games. She also won the silver medal in 10,000 metres race at the 2010 Asian Games.
Speaking about the diverse and remarkable athletes in the State, Mangirish Palekar, Former International Founder, Director of Shuttlecraze & Hon. Secretary Greater Mumbai Badminton Association, said “Playing the sport over 3 decades, representing Maharashtra and the Country have given me immense joy, happiness and satisfaction. With immense gratitude I must admit that Maharashtra has always contributed towards the encouragement of talent right from the grassroots level. Now since my induction into the administration of the District and State Association, our aim is to promote sports and elevate the standard of Badminton Sport in the State.”
Sharing views on the importance of athletics, Mr. Adille Sumariwala, President, MAA, said, “Sports means everything to me. I have won 22 gold medals for Maharashtra. One of the most effective ways to achieve physical and mental well-being, is sports. It also helps in strengthening the immune system and enhancing the body strength. It’s been observed that people with health body and mind have been less-affected by this current pandemic. Hence, I urge everyone to participate in some form of sports/physical activity for a healthy lifestyle.”
Maharashtra is known for developing sporting culture and nurturing talent. It has produced some of the finest sportspersons who have won both national and international acclaim.