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Sport in India

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Subject: Culture of India, Public holidays in India, 2012 in Indian sports, Sport in India, Folklore of India
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Sport in India

There are a number of popular sports in India but cricket is the most popular. The country also has won eight Olympic gold medals in field hockey. India has hosted and co-hosted several international sporting events, including the 1951 and 1982 Asian Games, the 1987, 1996 and 2011 Cricket World Cup, the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, the 2010 Hockey World Cup and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Major international sporting events annually held in India include the Chennai Open, Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon, and the Indian Masters. In 2011, India hosted its first Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit, an Indian motor racing circuit in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The National Games of India is a national domestic sports event, which has been held in the country since 1924. India also is home to cricket's Indian Premier League (IPL), launched in 2008.


Before independence

The history of sports in India dates back to the Vedic era. Physical culture in ancient India was fuelled by religious rights.

The mantra in the Atharvaveda, says, "Duty is in my right hand and the fruits of victory in my left." In terms of an ideal, these words hold the same sentiments as the traditional Olympic Oath: "For the Honour of my Country and the Glory of Sport."

Badminton probably originated in India as a grownup's version of a very old children's game known in England as Battledore and Shuttlecock, the battledore being a paddle and the shuttlecock a small feathered cork, now usually called a "bird."

Games like chess, snakes and ladders, playing cards, and polo originated in India, and it was from here that these games were transmitted to foreign countries, where they were further modernised.

After independence

After the IX International Youth Year in 1985.[1]

India has hosted or co-hosted several international sporting events, including the 1951 and the 1982 Asian Games, the 1987 and 1996 Cricket World Cup, the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, the 2010 Hockey World Cup, and the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Major international sporting events annually held in India include the Chennai Open, Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon, and the Indian Masters. The country hosted the 2011 Cricket World Cup and the first Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

Administration and funding

Political responsibility for sport in India is with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, which is headed by a cabinet minister and managed by National Sport Federations.[2] Sports Authority of India, the field arm of the Ministry, supports and nurtures talent in youth, and provides them with requisite infrastructure, equipment, coaching facilities and competition exposure.[3] Dorabji Tata, with the support of Dr. A.G. Noehren, then director of YMCA, established the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in 1927. IOA is responsible for the Indian continent’s participation in the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games (outdoor, indoor and beach), and South Asian Games. Each Olympic and non-Olympic sport has a federation at the national level.[4]

The selection of the national teams is done by the respective national federations and then recommend to IOA for official sponsorship for participation in the games conducted under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee, Olympic Council of Asia, Commonwealth Games Federation, and SAG. A special feature of the Indian Olympic Association is that the National Federations and the State Olympic Associations are affiliated with and recognised by it. The main task of the State Olympic Associations is to promote the Olympic sport and to ensure co-ordination among the State Sports Associations. In 2010–11, the total budget for sports and physical education schemes is 31176.9 million (US$510 million).[5] Hockey, in which India has an impressive record with eight Olympic gold medals, is said to be the national sport(unclear source). The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Arjuna Award are India's highest awards for achievement in sports, while the Dronacharya Award is awarded for excellence in coaching.

India has been criticised for neglecting women in sports, as depicted in the film "Chak De! India", where women's sports associations are under-sponsored and out of funds.

International sports events held in India

Following is a list of international sports events held in India:

Sport Event Name Year/Date Venue
Multi-sport event Asian Games 1951 New Delhi
Field hockey Field Hockey World Cup 1982 BHA Stadium, Bombay
Multi-sport event Asian Games 1982 New Delhi
Cricket Cricket World Cup 1987 Multiple Venues
Multi-sport event South Asian Games 1987 Calcutta
Multi-sport event South Asian Games 1995 Madras
Cricket Cricket World Cup 1996 Multiple Venues
Multi-sport event Afro-Asian Games 2003 Hyderabad
Field hockey Men's Hockey Champions Trophy 2007 Chennai
Football AFC Challenge Cup 2008 Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi

Gachibowli Athletic Stadium, Hyderabad

Multi-sport event Commonwealth Youth Games 2008 Pune
Field hockey Field Hockey World Cup 2010 Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi
Multi-sport event Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi
Cricket Cricket World Cup 2011 Multiple Venues
Field hockey Men's Hockey Champions Trophy 2011 (Withdrew by FIH) New Delhi
Multi-sport event South Asian Winter Games 2011 Dehradun and Auli
Motor sports Formula One (2011 season) Indian Grand Prix (30th October 2011) Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Field hockey Olympic Field Hockey Qualification 2012 Summer Olympics (London)
Qualification Tournament 1
New Delhi
Motor sports Formula One (2012 season) Indian Grand Prix (28th October 2012) Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Cricket Women's Cricket World Cup 2013 Multiple Venues
Multi-sport event South Asian Games 2013 Delhi
Field Hockey FIH Men's Hockey World League (2012–14 season) 2013 Round 2 (Delhi leg) Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi
FIH Women's Hockey World League (2012–14 season) 2013 Round 2 (Delhi leg)
Motor sports Formula One (2013 season) Indian Grand Prix (27th October 2013) Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Superbike World Championship 17th November 2013
Field Hockey Men's Hockey Champions Trophy 2014 Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneshwar
FIH Men's Hockey World League (2012–14 season) 2014 Round 4 (Final round) Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi
Multi-sport event Lusophony Games 2014 Goa
Tennis Davis Cup World Group Play-offs 2014 KSLTA Tennis Stadium, Bangalore
Football FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 Multiple Venues
Field hockey Field Hockey World Cup 2018 Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneshwar

India at major international sports events


The Indian Hockey team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, later going on to defeat Germany 8–1 in the final.

India first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900, with an athlete (Norman Pritchard) winning two medals in athletics. The nation first sent a team to the Summer Olympic Games in 1920, and has participated in every Summer Olympic Games ever since. India has also competed at several Winter Olympic Games since 1964. India has won a total of 26 Olympic medals. India won its first gold medal in men's field hockey in the 1928 Olympic Games. Abhinav Bindra became the first Indian to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Games, and India's first gold medal since 1980, when the men's field hockey team won the gold.[6][7]

India is remarkable among nations for having won very few Olympic medals, despite a population exceeding one billion, around half of them under the age of 25. Numerous explanations have been offered for the dearth, including poverty, cricket, and other cultural factors.[8][9][10][11]

According to several informal statistics, India is the country with the lowest number of total Olympic medals per capita (out of those countries which have won at least one medal).[12][13]

In the Winter Olympic Games, India has seen four consecutive representations–Nagano (Japan, 1998), Salt Lake City (Utah, USA, 2002), Turin (Italy, 2006), and Vancouver (British Columbia, Canada, 2010) through Shiva Keshavan, who is the current Asian Champion in luge.

Commonwealth Games

India has competed in fourteen of the eighteen previous Commonwealth Games; starting at the second Games in 1934 hosted the games one time.

Host Nation India hosted the Games in 2010, at Delhi. It was India's most successful Commonwealth Games to date with Indian athletes winning 38 gold, 27 silver and 36 bronze medals.

Asian Games

South Asian Games

The National Games of India

Olympic sports

Field hockey

Field hockey was considered to be the national game of India, but this has been recently denied by the Government of India, clarifying on a Right to Information Act (RTI) filed that India has not declared any sport as the national game.[14]

Until the mid-1970s, India dominated international field hockey, winning eight Olympic gold medals and won the men's Hockey World Cup held in 1975. Since then, barring a gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, India's performance in field hockey has been dismal, with other hockey-playing nations such as Australia, Netherlands and Germany improving their standards and catching up with India. Its decline is also due to the change in rules of the game, introduction of artificial turf, and internal politics in Indian field hockey bodies. The popularity of field hockey has also declined massively parallel to the decline of the Indian hockey team. In recent years, the standard of Indian hockey has gone from bad to worse, with the Indian hockey team not qualifying for the 2008 Olympics and finishing last in the 2012 Olympics. Currently, the Indian team is 11th in the rankings of the Fédération Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH, English:International Hockey Federation), the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey.[15]

India has hosted two Hockey World Cups–one in 1982 in Mumbai, and another in 2010 in Delhi, where they finished fifth and eighth respectively. India also hosted the annual Hockey Champions Trophy in 1996 and 2005.

Until 2008, the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was the apex body for hockey in the country. However, following revelations of corruption and other scandals in the IHF, the federation was dissolved and de-recognised, and a new apex body for Indian hockey called Hockey India (HI) was formed on 20 May 2009, with support from the IOA and former hockey players. HI, recognised by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), has the sole mandate to govern and conduct all activities for both men's and women's field hockey in India. Although the IHF was reinstated in 2010,[16] it is not recognised by the FIH. The IHF conducts a franchise-based tournament called World Series Hockey (WSH), with its first season conducted in 2012. However, it is not approved by HI or the FIH.

HI also conducts a franchise-based tournament called the Hockey India League (HIL). Its first season was in 2013 and is inspired from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI's) highly successful Indian Premier League. The tournament is recognised by the FIH, which has also decided to provide a 30-day window for the forthcoming seasons so that all top players can participate.


The current captain of Indian cricket team, MS Dhoni.

Cricket has a long history in India, having been introduced in the country during the British rule. It is the most popular sport by a wide margin in India and is often considered to be an unofficial religion in India.[17] Cricket is played on local, national, and international levels, and enjoys consistent support from people in most parts of India. Its development has been closely tied in with the history of the country, mirroring many of the political and cultural developments around issues such as caste, gender, religion, and nationality. The Indian national cricket team played its first official match (a Test) in 1932 against England, and the team's performance since then has generally been mixed, sometimes enjoying stupendous success and sometimes suffering outright failure. The highest profile rival of the Indian cricket team is the Pakistani cricket team, though, in recent times, it has gained other rivals, including Australia, South Africa and England.

In a career of twenty four-year span, Sachin Tendulkar has created almost all batting records, including most runs in both tests and ODIs and most number of centuries in both tests and ODIs, thus making him the most successful cricketer ever.

Although cricket is the most popular sport in India, it is not the nation's official national sport. India does not have a national sport.[18] The governing body for cricket in India, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), was formed in December 1928 and is based in Mumbai. Today, BCCI is the richest sporting body in the world.[19]

India has hosted or co-hosted a large number of multi-nation major international cricket tournaments, including the 1987 Cricket World Cup (co-hosted with Pakistan), the 1996 Cricket World Cup (co-hosted with Pakistan and Sri Lanka), the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy and the 2011 Cricket World Cup (co-hosted with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh). The India national cricket team has won major tournaments, including the 1983 Cricket World Cup in England, the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, the 2011 Cricket World Cup (which they won by beating Sri Lanka in the final at home), and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, and has shared the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with Sri Lanka. It had also briefly held the position of the No. 1 team in Tests.[20] The domestic competitions include the Ranji Trophy, the Duleep Trophy, the Deodhar Trophy, the Irani Trophy, and the Challenger Series, all of which are not widely followed, despite cricket's popularity in the country. This parallels the global situation in cricket, where the international game is more widely followed than the domestic game in all major cricketing countries. In addition, the BCCI conducts the Indian Premier League, a domestic franchise-based Twenty20 competition, during March–April every year and is extremely popular.


Sayed Rahim Nabi of East Bengal FC and Daniel of Chirag United SC during I league at Salt Lake Stadium.

Football was introduced to India during the British occupation. Although India has never been represented in any FIFA World Cup, it did qualify in 1950, though it did not take part, as they were not allowed to play barefoot.[21] India was an Asian powerhouse in football in 1950s and in 1960s. During this golden era, India created history as the first Asian team to reach semi-finals in an Olympic football tournament in 1956 Summer Olympics at Melbourne and Neville D'Souza became the first Asian and Indian to score a hat-trick (record remains unbeaten) in an Olympic match.[22][23] India also finished as runners-up in the 1964 AFC Asian Cup. But later on, the standard of football started to decline due to lack of professionalism and fitness culture. India currently ranks 159th in the FIFA rankings as of 2 November 2014.[24]

Football is, nevertheless, widely popular both as a spectator sport, and as a participation sport. In some parts of the country such as Kerala, West Bengal, Goa and the Northeast, its popularity rivals that of cricket. The India national football team represents India in all FIFA tournaments. The Yuva Bharati Krirangan of Kolkata is the second largest non-auto racing stadium in the world.

In June 1937, at the Army Headquarters, Shimla, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) was formed at a meeting of the representatives of football associations of six regions where the game was very popular in those days. It is the governing body for football in India.

Domestic competitions for men's football include the I-League and the I-League 2nd Division in the Indian League System, the annual knock-out style Federation Cup (India) and the Indian Super Cup, for women's football the India women's football championship. However, it is European football, such as the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and the UEFA Champions League, which are very popular among Indian football fans, especially in metropolitan cities.

The 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be the 17th tournament of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. FIFA revealed on 5 December 2013 (as part of their Executive Committee meets in Salvador, Brazil), that India will be the host.This will be the first time India will host an international football competition at world level.[25]


Members of India's women's national basketball team at the 2009 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam

Basketball is a popular sport in India, played in almost every school, although very few people follow it professionally. India has both men's and women's national basketball teams. Both teams have hired head coaches who have worked extensively with NBA players and now aim to popularise the game in India.[26]

The Young Cagers, as the national team is nicknamed, made one Olympic appearance in basketball, and appeared 20 times in the Asian Championship. India is currently ranked 58th in the world in basketball. The Indian national team had its best result at the 1975 Asian Championship, when the team finished ahead of teams including the Philippines, one of Asia's basketball strongholds. Internationally, one of the most recognised Indian basketball players has been Sozhasingarayer Robinson.[27] Affiliated into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) since 1936, India has one of Asia's longest basketball traditions.[28]

India's women had their best result at the recent 2011 FIBA Asia Championship for Women when they finished 6th. The team has several internationally known players including Geethu Anna Jose, who was invited to tryouts for the WNBA in 2011.[29]


Leander Paes (left), Mahesh Bhupati (right)

Tennis is a sport among Indians in urban areas. Tennis has gained popularity after the exploits of Vijay Amritraj. India's fortunes in Grand Slam singles have been unimpressive, although Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have won many men's doubles and mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. Sania Mirza is the only notable Indian woman tennis player, having won a WTA title and breaking into the Top 30 WTA rankings. On the men's side, young Somdev Devvarman and Yuki Bhambri are flying India's flag on the ATP Tour. Yuki was the Australian Open junior singles champion in 2009.

Table tennis

Table tennis is a popular indoor recreation sport in India, which has caught on in states including West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. The Table Tennis Federation of India is the official governing body of the sport. India, which is ranked 30th in the world, has produced a single player ranked in the top 50, Sharat Kamal.[30]


V Diju & Jwala Gutta are Indian badminton players.

Badminton is popular in India. Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal is currently ranked fifth[31] in the world, and has been named the Most Promising Player of 2008 by the Badminton World Federation. This is the first-ever achievement by any Indian shuttler, after Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand, who both won the All England Open in 1980 and 2001 respectively. At the 2012 London Olympic Games, Nehwal won the bronze medal in the individual women's competition.[32]


Golf is a growing sport in India. It is especially popular among the wealthier classes, but has not yet caught on with others due the expenses involved in playing. The most successful Indian golfer is Jeev Milkha Singh, who has won three titles during the European Tour, four during the Japan Golf Tour, and six during the Asian Tour. Although his current world ranking is 36th, his highest ranking has been 28th (in March 2009). Singh has won the Asian Tour Order of Merit twice. Other Indians who have won the Asian Tour Order of Merit are Jyoti Randhawa in 2002 (the first Indian to do so), and Arjun Atwal, who went on in 2010 to become the first India-born player to become a member of, and later win, the US-based PGA Tour.

There are numerous golf courses all over India, and a Professional Golf Tour of India. India's men's golf team won gold at the 1982 Asian Games, and silver at the 2006 Asian Games. Lakshman Singh won the individual gold at the 1982 Asian Games.


Four men standing. Middle of them is a young Indian male who wears a shiny orange dressing gown with blue border. His hands are behind his head. The other three men are all dressed in black and appear to be waiting around the man.
Vijender preparing for a boxing match on a television show.

Boxing is a highly profiled sport in India, though India has not yet produced a world champion in any weight class, although it is a regular medal-holder at the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. In November 2007, India's Mary Kom won the best boxer title and secured a hat-trick of titles. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Vijender Kumar won a bronze medal in the middleweight division, and Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar qualified for the quarterfinals. Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar, A.L. Lakra, and Dinesh Kumar each won a bronze medal at the 2008 World Championship. Vijender Kumar is current world no. 1 in the middleweight class. India's lone women boxer, M.C. Mary Kom, won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games.


Considered one of the most ancient and oldest sports in the world, wrestling in India has a glorious past. The sport of wrestling began its journey in India several centuries ago, during the Middle Ages. Wrestling is among the most prestigious and oldest events in the Olympic Games. It was included in the Olympics in 708 BC. In ancient times, wrestling in India was mainly used as a way to stay physically fit. It was also used as a military exercise without any weapons. Wrestling in India is also known as dangal, and it is the basic form of a wrestling tournament. In India, wrestling is mostly known as Malla-Yuddha. There are mentions of wrestling in the ancient times, found in the Sanskrit epic of Indian history, Mahabharata. One of the premier characters in Mahabharata, Bhima, was considered to be a great wrestler. Other great wrestlers included Jarasandha, Duryodhana, and Karna. Another Indian epic, Ramayana, also mentions wrestling in India, describing Hanuman as one of the greatest wrestlers of that time. The 13th-century Malla Purana references a group of Gujarati Brahmin wrestlers known as Jyesthimallas.

Weightlifting and powerlifting

Training room

Karnam Malleswari won a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, making her the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal.[33] In 1992, she participated in the Asian championship which took place in Thailand, standing second and winning three silver medals. She also won three bronze medals in the world championship.

The headquarters of the Indian Weightlifting Federation is in New Delhi. The federation is affiliated with the Indian Olympic Association (Delhi), and is also a member of the Asian Weightlifting Federation (Tehran) and International Weightlifting Federation (IWF, Budapest). The present general secretary of the IWF is Balbir Singh.

The International Weightlifting Federation banned the Indian Weightlifting Federation from participating in all international competitions for one year when three Indian women weightlifters—S. Sunaina, Sanamacha Chanu, and Pratima Kumari—were accused of doping offences in various international competitions in a single year.


The game of archery has historical significance, as royals in the ancient days used to practice archery. Modern-day archery in India began in the early 1970s, before its introduction as an Olympic event in 1972, and it was formalised in 1973 when the Archery Association of India (AAI) came into existence. Since its inception, AAI has been promoting an organisation for the sport. India has been producing some world class players who are the medal hopefuls in international events of archery.


Volleyball is a popular recreation sport played all over India, both in rural and urban areas. India is ranked fifth in Asia, and 27th in the world. In the youth and junior levels, India came in second in the 2003 World Youth Championships. The Indian senior men's team is ranked 46th in the world. A major problem for the sport is the lack of sponsors.[34]


Handball is a popular sport in India, played at the local level, but hasn't yet made an impact at the domestic level. India's handball team began in 27 April 1989, although it hasn't yet made an impact on the world stage, at the international level or the World Cup. The Handball Federation of India manages handball in India.[35]


Taekwondo in India is administered by the Taekwondo Federation of India which was founded by Jimmy R. Jagtiani.[36] Surendra Bhandari won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2002 Asian Games. Taekwondo is widely practised in India, with actors Neetu Chandra, Akshay Kumar and Isha Koppikar holding black belts.

Rugby union

Rugby union is a minor, but fast-growing, sport in India. Some Indian sporting clubs are beginning to embrace the game, and it is the second most popular winter sport after football (soccer) in India, which itself trails in popularity after cricket and field hockey.


The history of cycling in India dates back to 1938, and the Cycling Federation of India governs the sport. Though cycling is unknown as a professional sport in India, it is popular as a common recreational sport and a way to keep fit.

Mountain biking

Indian Air Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), and a number of young and energetic mountain biking individual riders from cities including Pune, Bangalore, Delhi and Chandigarh. Last year, the government of Sikkim (Department of Tourism) introduced its own mountain biking race, with Southeast Asia's biggest prize money. The second edition saw 48 professional participants from around the globe.

Road Cycling/ Touring

The Tour of Nilgiris is a major non-competitive & non-commercial touring event in South Asia that covers 1,000 kilometres in under 10 days.[37] The Tour of Nilgiris (TfN), India’s first Day Touring Cycle Ride, was born in the December of 2008 with the twin objectives of promoting bicycling as an activity and spreading awareness about the bio-diversity, flora and fauna of the Nilgiris.

It soon grew into something a lot more, with an eclectic riding community in 2008 wanting to take part in. The community soon got together, chalked out plans, figured out a route and realized they would need a framework to support such a large group of people, got sponsors on board to mitigate costs as well as popularize the Tour and the Cause of popularizing Cycling as a viable and sustainable means of travel. Ever since its first edition, the TfN has stayed true to the Community of Cyclists in India by being a Tour for the Community, Of the Community and By the Community. It has grown in size, stature and visibility. From 40 riders in the first edition, its grown to 100 cyclists in 2013.

The tour has grown bigger & the routes tougher, allowing cyclists to test their endurance, enjoy the biodiversity of the Nilgiris covering 3 southern states in India (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu & Kerala). For the racing aficionado's, there are racing segments on the tour with colour coded jerseys, recognition and prizes. TfN as its lovingly called is pushing cycling to new frontiers with more and more interested cyclists, applying for the tour. The tour has acquired quite a name, and currently about 25% of registrations are selected for the tour by the organisers.

Equestrian sports

India has a wide following in various equestrian sports, including show jumping, eventing, dressage, endurance riding and tent pegging. Supported by the Equestrian Federation of India, eventing is the most popular of the five, with teams representing the country at most Asian Games, winning a bronze medal in the 2002 and 2006 games. India has been represented at the Olympics twice, by Wing Commander I.J. Lamba, and Imtiaz Anees.


Flat water and sea kayaking

Indian flat water kayakers are an emerging powerhouse on the Asian circuit. Outside of professional flat water kayaking, there is very limited recreational kayaking. The potential to generate interest in flat water kayaking is held by leisure resorts located near the sea or other water bodies. Indian tourists tend to consider kayaking a one-time activity, rather than a sport to be pursued.

Whitewater kayaking

Enthusiasts of whitewater kayaking are concentrated in the north towards the Himalayas, with some in the south in Bangalore in Karnataka. Most of these enthusiasts are or were whitewater raft guides who took to the sport of whitewater kayaking. Some of the prominent whitewater kayakers include Abhinav Kala, Shalabh Gahlaut, and John Pollard. Many of them have notched first descents (similar to climbing ascents) on rivers in India and Nepal.

"Bangalore Kayakers" or "Southern River Runners" are India's first amateur group of white water kayakers. Based out of Bangalore, they explore rivers around Western Ghats.[38] The lure for most of these participants is adventure. Whitewater kayaking in India allows for exploration of places where, literally, no human has been before.

"TEAM 4 ADVENTURE" is one of the groups which started formal whitewater kayak courses.

Gear availability is a problem that plagues kayakers. While the global designs for whitewater boats and paddles change annually, Indian kayakers have to pay high fees if they want to import any kind of gear, or they have to buy used gear in Nepal. More often than not, one will see Indian kayaking guides riding down the river in a Perception Amp, Piroutte or Dancer designs, while the kayakers from abroad ride the river in their new design, planing hull, centred volume kayaks from Riot, Pyranha, or Wave Sport.

Kayaking India groups on Facebook are good resources for kayakers in India.

Athletics and triathlon

Madhurjya Borah, an Indian triathlete holds silver medal at South Asian Triathlon Championship

Anu Vaidyanathan, an Indian triathlete, is the first and only Asian to compete in Ultraman.[39]


Gymnastics came of age in India when, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, Ashish Kumar won the first-ever medal in gymnastics for India and also won a bronze medal.[40] However, soon after the win, the president of the Gymnastics Federation of India, controversially asked Kumar's chief coach from the Soviet Union, Vladimir Chertkov, "Is this all that you can deliver, a bronze?" The comment was widely reported in the press. Later, the coach revealed that, "In August 2009, we had no equipment. Ashish trained on hard floor till February 2010, and then we got equipment around 20 years old." The federation announced that no Indian team would travel to Rotterdam for the World Championships in October, which would mean that Indian gymnasts would not have the opportunity to qualify as a team for the 2012 Summer Olympics.[41][42]

Non-olympic sports

Billiards and snooker

India has been a force in world billiards competitions. Champions including Wilson Jones, Michael Ferreira, Geet Sethi and now the domination of Pankaj Advani have underlined the powerhouse status of the country. TheSnooker Federation of India, the apex body, plays a proactive role in popularising the game. Many efforts have been made by the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India in the recent past to enhance the popularity of the game in the country. Several training camps for developing budding talent and providing them with regional and state sponsorship have been organised by the Billiards and Snooker Federation in various parts of the country.


Kabaddi is one of the most popular sports in India.

Kabaddi is a popular national sport in India, played mainly among people in villages. It is regarded as a team-contact sport and as a recreational form of combat training. Two teams occupy opposite halves of a small field and take turns sending a raider into the other half to win points by tagging and wrestling members of the opposing team. The raider then attempts to return to his own half while holding his breath and chanting "kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi" during the whole raid. India has taken part in four Asian Games in kabaddi, and won gold in all of them. The four forms of kabaddi played in India are Amar, Sanjeevni, Huttuttoo, and Gaminee. Amar is generally played in Punjab, Haryana, America, Canada, and other parts of the world, mostly by Punjabi sportsmen. Sanjeevni is the most-played form of kabaddi in India and the world. This is the form generally used in international matches and played in Asian Games. Huttuttoo, a much tougher version of kabaddi, was played by men in Maharashtra State.

India won the Kabaddi World Championship in 2007, beating Iran 29–19.[43]


Chess has risen in popularity in India over the last few decades, primarily due to its star player GM Viswanathan Anand. He was the former World Champion, and he has revolutionised the popularity of this game in India.

According to Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation (FIDE), the World Ranking (active players) as of May 2013:

1. Viswanathan Anand: 5th rank with a rating of 2,783

2. Koneru Humpy: 3rd rank with a rating of 2,597

3. Dronavalli Harika: 18th rank with a rating of 2,492

The game may have originated from India as a successor to Chaturanga or Shatranj. The All India Chess Federation is the governing body for chess in India.


Force India drivers at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix.

Motorsport is a popular spectator sport in India, although there are relatively few competitors compared to other sports, due to the high costs of competing. On 1 February 2005, Narain Karthikeyan became India's first Formula One racing driver. On March 2007, he also became the first-ever Indian-born driver to compete in a NASCAR Series. He debuted in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the Kroger 250.[44] Force India F1 is a Formula One motor racing team. The team was formed in October 2007, when a consortium led by Indian businessmen Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol bought the Spyker F1 team for €88 million.[45] After competing in 29 races without a point, Force India won their first Formula One World Championship points and podium place when Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.[46] New Delhi hosted the Indian Grand Prix in 2011 at Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, 50 km from New Delhi. Karun Chandhok was the test driver for Team Lotus & Narain Karthikeyan raced for HRT during the first half of the 2011 Formula One season. Karun Chandhok participated in Friday's practice session and Karthikeyan (stepping in for Daniel Ricciardo) raced at the 2011 Indian Grand Prix; it was the first time two Indian drivers associated with the same Formula One Grand Prix directly.

Team MRF’s Gaurav Gill the first Indian rally driver to win FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 2013.[47][48]


Jump korfball in the Netherlands between ZKV Zaandam and ALO.

Korfball, a mixed-gender ball sport, with similarities to netball and basketball, is played by over 50 countries in the world. It is not as popular in India as other sports, but is still played by a significant amount of people. India came in third place twice (2002 & 2006)[49] in the Asia-Oceania Korfball Championships.


Karate in India is administered by the All India Karate Federation[50] whose president is R. Thiagarajan. India has produced many accomplished karatekas like Syeda Falak and Sabari Karthik. The 2011 Asian Sports Karate Games were held in Tamil Nadu, India.


Floorball, an indoor team sport, a type of floor hockey, is gaining popularity in India. The Floorball Federation of India was started in 2001 and, since then, it has expanded rapidly. There have been four national floorball championships held, with Uttar Pradesh becoming the champions. Women's floorball has also expanded, and Mumbai is the first national floorball champion of India. India is a provisional member of the International Floorball Federation. India has participated in many international friendlies and steps are being taken to make India an ordinary member of floorball.[51]


Netball, derived from early versions of basketball, is a popular sport in India, especially among Indian women. India's national team is ranked 25th in the world and has played only a few matches. The team has failed to qualify for any of the World Netball Championships. They played 18 matches in total.[52]

In the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, netball was included as a medal sport. However, the Indian team failed to win a medal.


gym class, colleges, and clubs throughout Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The sport is also slowly gaining in popularity in other countries including France, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom. India's junior throwball team visited Sri Lanka in 1982. Vijay Dahiya from Haryana was captain of the team. The Indian team won the test series.


Lacrosse is a relatively new sport in India, introduced in 2006. The governing body for lacrosse in India is the Indian National Lacrosse Federation. It is now being played by schools in Shillong and Meghalaya, while being mostly unknown in the rest of the country.

American football

Introduced in 2011 by various American football figures, including Mike Ditka and Ron Jaworski, the Elite Football League of India was India's first professional American football league. Their first league play was to commence in 2012, and feature teams from eight different Indian cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi, and Jaipur. [1][53]



India is considered the cradle of modern polo. Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire in the 15th century, firmly established its popularity. The period between the decline of the Mughal dynasty and the upsurgence of the British Imperial rule, polo almost vanished from mainland India. Fortunately, the game survived in a few remote mountainous enclaves of the subcontinent, notably Gilgit, Chitral, Ladakh, and Manipur.

In India, the popularity of polo has waned and risen many times. However, it has never lost its regal status. In the last few decades, the emergence of privately owned teams has ensured a renaissance in Indian polo. Today, polo is not just restricted to the royalty and the Indian Army.

Baseball and softball

Baseball has recently begun to show up in India. Softball is played in school and at the university level. Two Indian Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League for the competition's inaugural 2010–11 season.[55]

Rock climbing

Rock climbing has been around in India for a long time. Presumably, the mountaineers headed for Himalayan ascents had to train somewhere, and would have imparted some of the initial technical climbing culture. Documented evidence of rock climbing is associated with bouldering and climbing around Bangalore's famous Ramanagara crags and Turahalli boulders, around Western Ghats closer to Mumbai and Pune.

Dinesh KS (Dinni) of Wildcraft Equipment was climbing in Bangalore around the 1980s as part of a continuing tradition of climbing around the area.

The Deccan Plateau and south of the Vindhya Range are considered the prime locations for rock climbing in India. There is an established climbing tradition associated with Mumbai, Pune, and Bangalore. For example, Hampi is considered the bouldering capital of India. Climbers congregate here during New Year's Eve and climb through the weeks preceding and after. Badami is popular for its free and sport routes (numbering over 200).

While the nature of the sport is more non-competitive, the competitive version (such as sport climbing) has a very intense scene. Indians have notched several international positions in sport climbing and are considered an Asian powerhouse.

Some of the more popular locations for sport climbing include Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kangla Wall of MMTA (Manipur), Shillong, Kolkata, and Indore.

Sepak takraw

Sepak takraw ball

Sepak takraw, though not very well known in India, was a demonstration sport at the Delhi Asian Games in 1982.[56] The Sepak Takraw Federation, with its headquarters in Nagpur, Maharashtra, was founded on 10 September 1982. It is recognised by the Indian Olympic Association and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports since 2000.[57] So far, the federation has conducted 14 senior, seven junior, and six sub-junior national championships in different cities, and is conducting Federation Cup Tournaments and zonal National Championships.

The game is very popular in the northeastern state of Manipur, and some of the best players came from there. In the 22nd King’s Cup International Sepak Takraw Tournament held in Bangkok, the India men's team lost in the semifinals and claimed bronze in the team event. In the doubles event, the women's team lost in the semifinals, but earned bronze medals.[58]

Winter sports

Winter sports are common in India in the Himalayan areas. Skiing tournaments take place every winter in Gulmarg, Kashmir, and Manali. Winter sports are generally more common in the northern states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. Skiing, snow rugby, snow cycling, and snow football are some of the common winter sports played in India. Skiing is more popular, although India has taken part in luge in Winter Olympics since 1998. Shiva Keshavan is the only Indian to have won medals in international meets in winter sports (Asian Gold 2011, Asian Silver 2009, Asian Bronze 2008, Asian Silver (doubles) 2005, Asian Bronze (singles) 2005), and to have participated in four Olympic Games. He is the Asian speed record holder at 134.4 km/h, making him the fastest man in Asia on ice. Luge is practised in a big way by the mountain residents in an improvised form called "reri".


India has a national bandy team. The Bandy Federation of India governs bandy in India. Its headquarters are in Mandi in Himachal Pradesh. Bandy, a team winter sport played on ice, in which skaters use sticks to direct a ball into the opposing team's goal, is generally played in northern India, where there is snow and ice. India is one of seven countries in Asia and out of a total of 28 to be a member of Federation of International Bandy. BFI planned to send a team to the 2011 Asian Winter Games in Astana-Almaty,[59] but ultimately did not.[60]

Ice hockey

Ice hockey is played in the colder parts of India, including Kashmir, Ladakh, and parts of Himachal Pradesh.[61]

Traditional and regional sports


Young boys playing Gilli-danda, a traditional Indian sport.

Gilli-danda is a sport played by using one small stick (gilli) and a large stick (danda) like cricket, with the ball replaced by gilli. It is still played in villages of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Maharashtra in India only as a recreational sport among boys.


Kancha, played by using marbles,Marble are glass balls which are very popular among children it is popular in small Indian cities and villages among small boys only as a gully sport.It is rarely played by girls.The participant has to hit the marble kept in a circle .If he hits the target properly, he wins.The winner gets the kancha of other participant boys.[62]


Kite-flying is pursued by many people in India, in cities as well as villages. The festival of Makar Sankranti features kite-flying competitions.It is festival which is a passion among Indians .

Indian martial arts

India has many traditional regional forms of martial arts like lathi khela, sqay, kalari, kusti, thang-ta and silambam

Other popular regional sports

Other regional sports and games, including air sports, atya patya, Sitolia bridge, carrom, cycle polo, fencing, judo, Gatka, kho-kho, mallakhamb, roller skating, rowing, shooting ball, soft tennis, squash, swimming, ten-pin bowling, tennikoit, tug of war, yachting, and yoga, have dedicated followers and their own national sports federations.[63]

Sports Broadcasting in India

Local sporting events broadcasting is in a stagnant stage in India due to the mandatory sharing of sporting events of live feed and rights made by ordnance in favour of Prasar Bharathi. Thus, all sports broadcasters playout from outside the country, which only allows the capability to produce international events and fades the production, distribution, invention of the new local field of sporting events.

Sports Leagues in India

Cricket Leagues

Major Sports Leagues

Other Sports Leagues

Youth Sports Leagues

Defunct Sports Leagues

Proposed Sports Leagues

See also


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External links

  • The mystery of the missing medals
  • Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports
  • Budget for Sports in India
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