Regional Champions in Indian Sports [Infographic]


Continued from Regional Sports Powerhouses in India

India Infographics - Sports in India

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The current trends in Indian sports indicate that a sleeping giant has at last woken up to perform. While our nation is finally performing like it should in various sports, it is interesting to observe that this performance is not coming from all across the nation. It is still certain pockets spread across some Indian states that are capturing all the glory. Here is a compilation of regional champions in national sports who excel in specific sports disciplines:


Weightlifting – Manipur

If there is a need to offer proof for the highly concentrated regions of sporting culture in India, then the weightlifting champions from Manipur provide it with a clean & jerk movement! Manipuri weightlifters have won 7 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals since 1998, which is unmatched by any other Indian state.

It all started with Kunjarani Devi winning the bronze in 1990 Asian Games, which was followed by her golds in 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games. Inspired by her success, a long line of champions such as Monika Devi, Sanamacha Chanu, Pratima Kumari, Ngangbam Soniya Chanu, Mirabai Chanu, Sanjita Khumukcham came out of this tiny state. Surprisingly, the glory of Manipuri women has not been shared by men. May be Manipuri men are busy in militancy for a separate nation!

Boxing – Haryana & Manipur

Bhiwani Boxing Club | Courtesy: Sportskeeda
Bhiwani Boxing Club | Courtesy: Sportskeeda

It is again the land of Jats that captures glory in providing a fighting chance for India at international boxing events. In fact, it is just a single town that has been the breeding ground for Indian boxers – Bhiwani. Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar, Dinesh Kumar all hail from a single club in this small city, the Bhiwani Boxing Club. The club has produced nine out of India’s 16 Olympic qualifiers since 2004. Inspired by these champions, there are around 1,000 boys now training at the Sports Authority of India centre and half a dozen private coaching institutes that attract aspirants from the surrounding countryside.

Apart from Haryana, it is again the tiny North-eastern state of Manipur, which attracts all attention. Dingko Singh sparked the imagination of young Manipuris by winning the Asian games gold medal in 1998. His inspiring work was very well carried forward by the great Mary Kom who has motivated a generation of male and female boxers.

Tennis – Chennai

Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy

Tennis has been a rich man’s game right from the days of the British. Evidently, the game’s popularity was mainly concentrated in metro cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai. Particularly, Chennai has been the cradle where future tennis stars were either born or nurtured. In the 1960s, the Amritraj brothers, Anand, Ashok and Vijay Amritraj laid the foundation for Indian tennis to grow and flourish. They were joined by the father-son duo of Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan, who won many laurels in the professional tennis arena.

However, the arrival of Leander Paes in Indian tennis changed the scenario forever. Trained at the Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy in the 1980s, Leander took the standards a notch higher when he became the first Indian after 40 years to win the first individual bronze medal at the Olympics in 1996. Since then, players from Tamil Nadu have won 5 gold and 2 bronze medals at various Asiad and Commonwealth Games. The current national champion Somdev Devvarman is also a protégé of tennis academies in Chennai. However, owing to Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi’s rise to fame, Hyderabad and Bengaluru have now emerged as major tennis hubs in India.

Badminton – Hyderabad

Pullela Gopichand | Courtesy: The Hindu
Pullela Gopichand | Courtesy: The Hindu

Badminton has been a game whose popularity has ebbed and risen along with the fortunes of Indian stars. In the 1980s, India was fortunate to have two top players of international repute who first challenged the domination of Far Eastern countries. Prakash Padukone and Syed Modi not only won Asian and Commonwealth titles, they were also crowned champions at the prestigious All England Open Badminton Championships.

In more recent times, the success of Pullela Gopichand turned the tide for Indian players. After he established the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad in 2003, the tide turned into a flood of new talented Badminton players such as Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, P. V. Sindhu and Gurusai Datt. Particularly, Saina Nehwal’s numerous successes in the international arena have created immense popularity, enabling Hyderabad-based players to win 3 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals during 1998-2010.

Archery – Jharkhand

Tata Archery Academy | Courtesy: G4SSport
Tata Archery Academy | Courtesy: G4SSport

Indian archery is the best example of right talent meeting the right infrastructure to produce a bunch of world champions. The tribal belt of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal states were traditionally the strongholds of the finest archers in the country. Among these states, Jharkhand has been the breeding ground for various top notch archers in the country.

Jamshedpur became the nerve centre of Indian archery after the Tata Archery Academy was established there in 1996. Since then, this centre has produced numerous illustrious archers such as Jayant Talukdar, Poornima Mahato, Premlata Agarwal, Deepika Kumari, Dola Bannerjee and Limba Ram, who won national and international honours. Particularly, the recent success of Deepika Kumari in the 2010 Commonwealth Games brought the limelight for archers in the tribal region. Archers from Jharkhand have won 1 gold and 4 bronze medals, while Bengali archers have won 1 gold and 5 bronze medals during 1998-2010.

Factfile –
All the medal figures are cumulative for Commonwealth Games and Asian Games during 1998-2010

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