Indian Shooting Champion: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.

Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore first tasted success for India at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, where he won Gold in the both the individual and pairs category of the Double Trap event. He then went on to secure a bronze in the 2003 Shotgun Championships in Cyprus.

But probably his most memorable achievement as a shooter came the following year at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he won a silver medal in the Double Trap event, which also turned to be India’s only medal in the Games. He was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2004 for his silver medal-winning feat.

Two years later at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, he won Gold in the individual category of the Double Trap event and silver in the pair’s category of the same event and carried that form into the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, clinching the silver in Double Trap teams category and bronze in the individual category.

The 45-year-old also enjoyed a great time at the Asian Clay Target Championships, where he won 4 Gold medals and between 2002 and 2006, won a total of 25 International medals at various Double Trap championships.

Following his voluntary retirement from the Indian Army in 2013, he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and was sworn-in as the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting last year.

Indian Shooting Champion: Vijay Kumar

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Hailing from a small village in Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh, Vijay Kumar shot to fame at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, winning the Gold in the Singles as well as the Pairs category of the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event and also won the bronze in the same event at the Asian Games that were held in Doha that year.

He further enhanced his reputation at the 2009 ISSF World Championships in Beijing, where he clinched the bronze and carried that form into the 2010 Commonwealth Games, winning a second successive Gold in the Singles as well as pairs category of the 25m Rapid Pistol Fire and winning a silver and a bronze in the 25m centre-field pistol singles and pairs respectively.
He continued his good run in 2010, by winning the bronze at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in the 25m Centre Fire Pistol category and then won his second straight silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in Fort Benning in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol category.

But a year later the 30-year-old scaled the biggest high of his career so far, by winning the silver at the 2012 London Olympics in the 25m Rapid Fire Pistol event. Along with wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who won a bronze himself, he was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2012. 48 months later, Vijay won yet another silver at the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

With such spectacular feats in the past few years, much will be expected out of him as he gears up for the 2016 Olympics next year.

Indian Wrestling Champion: Udey Chand

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Udey Chand is the first individual world championship medal winner from independent India. He created history when he clinched bronze in lightweight (67 Kg) freestyle at the 1961 World Wrestling Championships in Yokohama.

He also won two silver medals at the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games in Freestyle and Greco-Roman style wrestling formats.

He was awarded the Arjuna award in 1961, the first person to get the award.

Indian Shooting Champion: Jitu Rai

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

He may have made a late entry to competitive shooting, but Jitu Rai has certainly made up for that loss by putting in stupendous performances on a consistent basis on the world stage.

Currently ranked 1st in the 10m Air pistol rankings and 4th in the 50m pistol category, the 27-year-old had an unbelievable 2014, where he won the Gold in the 10m Air Rifle category and clinched the silvers in the 10m Air pistol category and 50m pistol category at the ISSF World Cup, thereby becoming the first Indian to win 2 medals at a single World Cup.

He backed that up with yet another silver in the World Championships, held in Grenada and then went one notch above at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, by winning the Gold in 50m pistol event and then clinching the Gold and the bronze in the 50m pistol and 10m Air pistol team category at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
India would certainly be hoping that Jitu continues to deliver exceptional results for the country and helps them win a 3rd successive medal in shooting at the Rio Olympics next year.

Indian Wrestling Champion: Jatindra Charan Goho

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.

Goho is one of the most well-known wrestlers of India and the first Asian to win the World Light Heavyweight Championship in the United States in 1921.

He recorded victories over some of the biggest boxing names at the time. His wins came against Jimmy Esson, the ‘Scotch Giant’, then World Light Heavyweight Champion Ad Santel.

He developed his own technique which involved wrestling holds like dhonka, tibbi, gadhanet, dhak,tang, pat, dhobiya pat and kulla which later became a part and parcel of Indian wrestling.

Indian Shooting Champion: Abhinav Bindra

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.

An inspiration for several aspiring shooters, Abhinav Bindra’s journey as a top-notch shooter began at a very early age of 15, when he became the youngest participant at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, that were held in Kuala Lumpur.

After a disappointing maiden Olympics, in Sydney in 2000, he first tasted success on the global stage at the 2001 Munich World Cup, when he fired a score a 597/600 to clinch the bronze medal in the 10m Air Rifle category. That score was also the new junior world record at the time.

He continued his impressive showing the following year, at the Commonwealth Games, that were held in Manchester, winning the silver in the 10m Air Rifle Singles category and clinching the bronze in the 10m Air Rifle pairs category. Despite entering the 2004 Athens Olympics in good form, the 32-year-old once again failed to raise his game on the big stage and finished at a shattering seventh in the finals, despite finishing in third at the qualification stage.

However, every champion has a turning point in his career and Bindra too had one in 2006, when he clinched Gold at the 2006 ISSF World Cup, held in Zagreb in Croatia and also bettered his performance from Manchester to Melbourne at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, where he won Gold in the 10m Air Rifle pairs category and a bronze in Singles category of the same event.
But possibly Abhinav’s greatest achievement came 48 months later in 2008, when on August 11th, he clinched the Gold medal in the 10m Air Rifle event at the Beijing Olympics, thereby becoming the country’s first individual gold medalist at the Summer Games.
Two years later, he added another feather to his cap, when he led the Indian contingent out at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and then went on win Gold in the 10m Air Rifle Pairs category.

After his stellar performance in 2008, much was expected out of him at the 2012 London Olympics but unfortunately, he didn’t have the best of times at the Games, failing to go past the qualification round. But he returned with a vengeance 2 years later, where, a day after announcing this would his final Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he clinched the Gold in the 10m Air Rifle event.

Abhinav has also been a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2001 and with Rio 2016, expected to be his Olympic swansong, one can expect him to put forth a strong show and hopefully clinch another medal before bidding adieu.

Indian Shooting Champion: Gagan Narang

Blog by: Suryakant. Tripathi.

Gagan Narang first burst onto the scene, when he won the Gold at the Afro-Asian Games that were held in Hyderabad in 2003. Despite having a poor Athens Olympics, where he failed to qualify for the finals, the Chennai-born shooter made a sterling comeback at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, winning 4 Gold medals- 2 in the 10m Air Rifle event and 2 in 50m 3 Position event. His 2006 then got even better, when he secured a bronze each in the 10m Air Rifle team category and the 50m 3 Positions individual and team category respectively.

He qualified for the finals of the 2008 World Cup, after winning a gold in the World Cup earlier in the year, where he created the universe record, courtesy his perfect score of 600 in the qualification round and 103.5 in the finals.

However, the Olympic medal continued to Gagan as he failed to qualify for the finals again in the Beijing Games in 2008, but despite that disappointment continued to put in good performances, winning the silver in the 10m Air Rifle event in both the individual and team category at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010. For his excellent achievements, Gagan was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2011.

His watershed moment finally arrived 2 years at the London Olympics, where he clinched the bronze medal in the 10m Air Rifle event. That meal was the first of India’s 6 medals at the Summer Games that year.

Following his bronze win at London, Gagan won a silver in the 50m Rifle Prone category and a bronze in the 50m Rifle 3 Position category. With the Rio Games next year, also expected to be his final Olympics, one can hope for Gagan to put in his best forward and hopefully, win successive medals in the Summer Games.

Indian Wrestling Champion: Sushil Kumar

Blog by: Suryakant. Tripathi.

Sushil Kumar was inspired to take up wrestling by his cousin Sandeep. The family could support only one person and Sandeep was the one who backed out. Sushil started training with minimal funds and poor training facilities. However, his family helped him to prepare for national and international competitions.

He claimed the top spot in Commonwealth Champions on five occasions. He won gold twice at the 2010 & 2014 Commonwealth Games.

His best effort came at the 2008 Beijing Olympics when he clinched bronze in the 66 Kg category. In the 2012 London Olympics, he went one better to win the silver medal thus becoming the first Indian to win back-to-back individual medals at the Olympics.

Awards:
Arjuna award – 2005
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna – 2009
Padma Shri – 2011.

Indian Wrestling Champion: Yogeshwar Dutt

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi.

Yogeshwar Dutt hails from Haryana and has worked his way to be considered one of the best wrestlers in the world. He started wrestling when he was eight years old. He has won several medals at the Commonwealth Wrestling Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

His best effort at the Asian Games came this year in Incheon where he clinched gold in the 65-Kg freestyle category. He had earlier won bronze in the 2006 Doha Asiad.

At the Olympics, he tasted his first success when he won bronze at the 2012 London games in the 60-Kg freestyle category.

Awards:
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award – 2012
Padma Shri – 2013.