Sunil Gavaskar

Ever since he bid adieu from the great game of cricket a little over three decades ago, Sunil Gavaskar, one of the sport’s legends, has carved a niche for himself as a media personality. His punditry is looked forward to by the faithful when India’s cricketers are seen in action in whites as well as in the blues, and also during the signature events, be it in Asia or in the rest of the world under the aegis of the International Cricket Council (ICC). The former batting maestro plays badminton and follows most other sports that come under the ambit of the multi-discipline Olympic arena and appeals to a vast majority of the Indian populace.

M. M. Somaya

M. M. Somaya has had a distinguished sports career. Having represented his home state Maharashtra at the junior level in hockey, football and athletics, he eventually chose hockey as his game of true calling. Playing in the right-half position Somaya has had the distinction of taking part in three Olympic Games — Moscow, 1980; Los Angeles, 1984; and Seoul, 1988. He was a member of the team that won the Olympic Gold in Moscow in 1980 and was captain of the Olympic team in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Besides this he has represented the country at two World Cups, two Asian Games and three Champions Trophies among other major tournaments. The Government of India honoured Somaya with the Arjuna Award in 1985 for his achievements in hockey.

Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand is one of the greatest sporting icons of our time. He is the first Asian to win the World chess championship and single-handedly transformed India into a major power in the mind sport. A five-time World champion, he is still a force to reckon with at the highest level. Two years ago, he won the World rapid chess championship at the age of 48. He is a pure genius. He is remarkably articulate, polite to a fault and the nicest World champion – in any sport – you could ever hope to meet. He was, in fact, thought to be too nice to finish first, until he emerged as the World champion in 2000.

Aparna Popat

For a decade starting 1997, Aparna Popat remained the undisputed queen of Indian badminton. She won nine consecutive national singles titles – a record. Coached by Anil Pradhan, Prakash Padukone, Vimal Kumar and Ganguly Prasad at different stages of her illustrious career, Popat was the first woman shuttler to represent India at two successive Olympic Games (in 2000 and 2004). Achieving a best world ranking of 16, she won two singles medals and one team medal at the Commonwealth Games and was honoured with the Arjuna Award for the year 2005.

Anjali Bhagwat

For many years, Anjali Bhagwat had no equal on the distaff side of shooting, a sport which demands a high degree of excellence in the technical aspects. The first woman to break the glass ceiling in shooting, Anjali proved to be an expert in the 10m Air Rifle and Rifle 3 Position. She has won a mind-boggling 31 gold medals, 23 silver medals and seven bronze medals in various international meets such as the SAF Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Championships, Asian Games and World Cups. Anjali’s stupendous achievements won her admirers and the Arjuna award and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. She is coaching at the grassroots now. She is also a media personality invited by television channels to share her expert opinion.

Bhaichung Bhutia

Hailed as the torchbearer of Indian football in the modern era, Bhaichung Bhutia revolutionised the sport in the country in the 21st century. Bhutia was the guiding light for generations of footballers in the country with his unmatched skills and leadership on the football field. He has played for multiple clubs but became synonymous with East Bengal, which recognised him as the most valuable player when the club turned 100. With the national team, Bhutia won the SAFF Championships three times and also won the AFC Challenge Cup in 2008, which enabled India to compete in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time since 1984.