India, Sports, Stories

25% of all Padma Awards in Sports went to Cricketers


From 1954 to 2018, a total of 225 civilian awards (Padma Awards & Bharat Ratna) were given to sportspersons. Cricketers won close to 25% of these awards, 55 of them to be precise. The only Bharat Ratna to a sportsperson was conferred on Sachin Tendulkar. 34 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 225 Padma Awards (including one Bharat Ratna) were given to Sportspersons between 1954 and 2018. Of them, 192 are Padma Shri, 29 are Padma Bhushan, 3 are Padma Vibhushan & one Bharat Ratna. Sachin Tendulkar received the Bharat Ratna, while he along with Vishwanathan Anand & Edmund Hillary received the Padma Vibhushan. Padma awards were given to individuals from 31 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 14 different sports.

Cricketers lead the pack
Out of 225 awards given to sportspersons, 55 were given to Cricketers, 34 to Mountaineers, 25 to Hockey Players, 23 to Athletes, 11 to Tennis players, 10 to Badminton players, 9 to Wrestlers, 6 each to Chess players,  Boxers & Billiards players, 5 each to Swimmers, Football players & Shooters. In all, about 25% of all the awards went to Cricketers. Most of the 34 awardees in Mountaineering are from the North East. Cricket, Mountaineering, Hockey & Athletics together accounted for close to 61% 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. 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, 42 were given Padma Shri, 11 Padma Bhushan , one Padma Vibhushan and one Bharat Ratna. Among Mountaineers, 29 were given Padma Shri, 4 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 were Padma Shri.

Who Won the Highest Number of Awards?
A total of 14 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, two are Mountaineers & two are Tennis players.  (BR – Bharat Ratna, PV- Padma Vibhushan, PB- Padma Bhushan, PS – Padma Shri)

NameSportNumber of AwardsNames of Awards
Sachin TendulkarCricket3BR,PV,PS
Vishwanathan AnandChess3PV,PB,PS
Kapil DevCricket2PB,PS
Chandu BordeCricket2PB,PS
Rahul DravidCricket2PB,PS
Leander PaesTennis2PB,PS
Pullela GopichandBadminton2PB,PS
D B DeodharCricket2PB,PS
M C Mary KomBoxing2PB,PS
Nawang GombuMountaineering2PB,PS
Ramanathan KrishnanTennis2PB,PS
Sonam GyatsoMountaineering2PB,PS
Pankaj AdvaniBilliards2PB,PS
Mahendra Singh DhoniCricket2PB,PS


Most number of Awardees from Maharashtra
Only 9 states have at least 10 awardees from sports. Topping this list is Maharashtra with 34 awardees followed by Delhi (28), West Bengal (20), Punjab (16), Karnataka (16) ,Tamil Nadu (15), Haryana (14) and Telangana (13) in that order. Close to half the awardees from Maharashtra are Cricketers.

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About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.

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