From 1954 to 2019, a total of 234 civilian awards (Padma Awards & Bharat Ratna) were given to sportspersons. Cricketers won close to 24% of these awards, 56 to be precise. The only Bharat Ratna to a sportsperson was conferred on Sachin Tendulkar. 35 awards went to Mountaineers while 25 awards went to Hockey players. Sachin Tendulkar & Vishwanathan Anand won three different awards each while the most number of awardees (34) came from Maharashtra.
Padma Awards are the Civilian awards conferred by the Government of India. They are given in three categories, namely, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. On the other hand, Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country. The Awards are given to individuals who excel in various disciplines like art, social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service, etc. ‘Padma Vibhushan’ is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; ‘Padma Bhushan’ for distinguished service of high order and ‘Padma Shri’ for distinguished service in any field. The Bharat Ratna is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavour. The awards are announced on the occasion of Republic Day every year.
Padma Awards to Sportspersons
Padma Awards were given to individuals who excelled in the field of Sports since their inception in 1954. A total of 234 Padma Awards (including one Bharat Ratna) were given to Sportspersons between 1954 and 2019. Of them, 200 are the Padma Shri, 30 are the Padma Bhushan, 3 are the Padma Vibhushan & one the Bharat Ratna. Sachin Tendulkar received the Bharat Ratna, while he along with Vishwanathan Anand & Edmund Hillary received the Padma Vibhushan in the year 2008. Padma awards were given to individuals from 32 different sports. At least two or more awards were given to individuals from 17 different sports while only one award was given to individuals from 15 different sports.
Cricketers lead the pack
Out of 234 awards given to sportspersons, 56 went to Cricketers, 35 to Mountaineers, 25 to Hockey Players, 23 to Athletes, 11 to Tennis players, 10 to Badminton players, 10 to Wrestlers, 7 to Chess players, 6 each to Boxers, Billiards players & Football players, 5 each to Swimmers & Shooters. In all, about 24% of all the awards went to Cricketers. Most of the 35 awardees in Mountaineering are from the North East. Cricket, Mountaineering, Hockey & Athletics together accounted for close to 60% of the awards to Sportspersons. Though the Indian Hockey team won a total of eight Olympic gold medals, only 25 Hockey players were given these awards till date, less than half of the awards to Cricketers.
The Top 4 Sports by Awards won
Cricketers were given the highest number of awards in all the four categories. Among Cricketers who were given these awards, 43 were given Padma Shri, 11 Padma Bhushan , one Padma Vibhushan and one Bharat Ratna. Among Mountaineers, 29 were given Padma Shri, 5 Padma Bhushan and one Padma Vibhushan. Among the Hockey players, 24 were given Padma Shri and one Padma Bhushan to Dhyan Chand. All the 23 awards given to Athletes are Padma Shri.
Who won the Highest Number of Awards?
A total of 15 individuals won at least two such awards. Sachin Tendulkar and Vishwanathan Anand are the only ones to have won 3 awards each. Six (6) of these fourteen (14) people are Cricketers, 3 are Mountaineers & 2 are Tennis players. (BR – Bharat Ratna, PV- Padma Vibhushan, PB- Padma Bhushan, PS – Padma Shri)
|Name||Sport||Number of Awards||Names of Awards|
|D B Deodhar||Cricket||2||PB,PS|
|M C Mary Kom||Boxing||2||PB,PS|
|Mahendra Singh Dhoni||Cricket||2||PB,PS|
Most number of Awardees from Maharashtra
Only 9 states have at least 10 awardees who are Sportspersons. Topping this list is Maharashtra with 34 awardees followed by Delhi (29), West Bengal (20), Punjab (16), Karnataka (16) ,Tamil Nadu (16), Haryana (15) and Telangana (14) in that order. Close to half the awardees from Maharashtra are Cricketers.