Indian judo players

While Judo hasn’t traditionally been India’s strong suit in international sporting events, several athletes have defied the odds, securing accolades for the nation despite the limited support and recognition for this sport.

Let’s explore ten such exceptional judokas who have excelled on behalf of the country. All the top 10 Indian Judo players have contributed exceptionally to making their country proud in Judo globally. 

Below is the list of the top 10 Indian Judo Players:

SR.NOPlayer Name
1Cawas Bilimoria
2Narendra Singh
3Avtar Singh
4Akram Shah
5Garima Chaudhary
6Tababi Devi
7Lourembam Devi
8Kalpana Devi
9Sushila Likambam
10Navjot Chana

Below are the details of the top Indian Judo Players: 

1. Cawas Bilimoria:

Cawas Bilimoria was one of the pioneering Indian judo players who represented the country at the 1992 Sydney Olympics in the men’s heavyweight event.

He held the Indian national champion title from 1984 to 1993, and clinched medals at the Asian Games (1986), South Asian Judo tournament, and Commonwealth Judo tournaments.

Bilimoria, the holder of the prestigious Black Belt, received the Arjuna Award for his contributions to judo on the national and international levels. Therefore, he is considered one of the top Indian Judo Players. 

2. Narendra Singh: 

Narendra Singh, another notable judoka from India, achieved success by earning a bronze medal at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games in the 60 kg category. He made history as the first Indian judoka to participate in two Olympics (1992 and 1996) and was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 1999.

Narendra Singh was one of the top Indian judo players of his time. Singh faced a tragic turn of events in his career, being falsely charged with murder in 2013, which led to his suspension. Despite never being convicted or reinstated, he sadly took his own life in 2016. 

3. Avtar Singh:

Avtar Singh, a judoka with immense potential over the last ten years, proudly represented India in the Men’s 100 kg category at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Notably, he secured a gold medal during the 2016 South Asian Games and achieved the semifinals at the 2016 Asian Judo Championships.

This remarkable performance led to a remarkable improvement in his world ranking, advancing from 200 to 79, ultimately earning him a coveted spot in the Olympics.

4. Akram Shah:

Akram Shah, emerging from the Central Reserve Police Force. One of the top Indian judo players who excelled in judo with remarkable achievements. Competing in the extra lightweight category, he achieved a notable 9th position at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

His accomplishments include winning a Gold at the South Asian Games, a silver at the Commonwealth Games, and a bronze at the Asian Judo Championships. Shah was also honoured with the Arjuna Award for his contributions to the sport.

5. Garima Chaudhary: 

Garima Chaudhary, undeterred by a lack of support from her home state Uttar Pradesh, persevered and now represents Haryana. Training at the National Institute of Sports, Punjab since 2004, she participated in global tournaments like the 2011 World Championships in Paris and the 2012 Asian Championships, leading to her qualification for the 2012 London Olympics.

Although she exited in the first round, her performance paved the way for subsequent appearances at the Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian Games.

6. Tababi Devi: 

Tababi Devi scripted history by winning silver in the 44 kg category at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires. Undoubtedly one of the top Indian judo players to become the first Indian Judoka to claim an Olympic medal in judo, whether junior or senior.

Her journey includes gold at the Asian Cadet Championships and consistent dominance at the National Championships. Tababi Devi’s tale is inspiring, shaped by her parents’ sacrifices despite facing financial difficulties. Leading her category nationally, she aspires for a podium finish at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

7. Lourembem Devi: 

Lourembam Devi, a Manipur native, stood out as the sole female Indian judoka at the 2000 Summer Olympics, reaching the semi-finals and narrowly missing a bronze medal. Her career featured Gold Medals at the 2006 and 2010 Asian Championships, along with numerous medals in 16 National Events. After retiring, she transitioned to coaching, unfortunately passing away in 2013 due to medical complications.

8. Kalapana Devi: 

Kalpana Devi, who served in the Indo-Tibetian Border Police Force, boasts an impressive judo career. Starting with a 1998 sub-junior National championships silver, she earned 4 golds in subsequent junior national championships.

International successes followed, including golds at the Asian Judo Championships, International Judo Championships, and Commonwealth Judo Championships in 2010. She secured a historic Indian medal at the IJF Grand Prix in Uzbekistan and added a Commonwealth Games bronze in 2014.

9. Sushila Likambam:

Sushila Likambam, a contender in the women’s 48 kg category, nearly clinched gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Notably chosen for the Budapest Grand Slam in 2020, she consistently advocates for government support in Judo, particularly emphasizing financial compensation and opportunities for aspiring judokas.

10. Navjot Chana: 

Navjot Chana is from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district. His performances made him the top Indian judo player. Navjot Chana won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Navjot had the chance to represent England. But he denied the offer and continued representing India.

Navjot Chana was very sharp in the 60 kg category. Moreover, He managed to achieve fame nationally and internationally. Navjot was also repeatedly nominated for the Arjuna Award. Although his performance was very good he decided to step away from Judo post-2020.

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