Almost each one of us have a nickname - something which our family or friends refer to us as. Such names are usually a sign of love and affection people close to us have towards us.
This same thing applies to sports as well. Fans and pundits alike come up with some interesting names for the players they like depending upon their gameplay. Such nicknames might range from something extraordinary to something really funny - trust me, there is no in-between. Here, we look at some of the popular Indian athletes and their nicknames.
A left-handed opening batsman who has played more than 230 international matches, Shikhar Dhawan is famously referred to as 'Gabbar' since much before he started to make waves in international cricket. While Dhawan used to field at silly-point for his state-team, Delhi, the southpaw used to shout the dialogues of the famous Indian villain - Gabbar from Sholay, to cause a lapse in concentration for the opposition batsmen. This led to his then coach, Vijay Dahiya, to name him after the famous villain.
One of the more talented all-rounders in Indian cricket, Ajit Agarkar is majorly remembered for his exploits with the ball and his stunning century at the Lord's. The other thing which fans famously associate with this all-rounder from Mumbai is his seven consecutive ducks across two series against Australia in Test cricket. This led to him being nicknamed, 'The Bombay Duck' - something which Agarkar surely want to forget.
PT Usha is undoubtedly one of the greatest track and field athletes to emerge out of India. Known for her talent in the track, she is the youngest Indian sprinter to participate in the Olympics at the age of 16. During her second Olympics in 1984, she missed out on a medal by 1/100th of a second. Owning to her extraordinary speed she is known amongst the fans as, 'The Payyoli Express' - the town she belongs to.
The first Indian to win a Commonwealth Games gold medal, Milkha Singh is synonymous to track and field in India. When India toured Pakistan in for the India-Pakistan meet in 1960, the most awaited face-off was between Singh and Abdul Khaliq - the then fastest man in Asia. Singh defeated Khaliq with quite some ease and this led to the then Pakistan General nickname him as, 'The Flying Sikh'.
Baichung Bhutia is, without a doubt, one of the greatest footballers to have ever represented India. Termed as 'God's gift to Indian Football' by IM Vijayan, Bhutia could cause terrors in any opposition defense with his precise shooting skills. Owing to this very skill, Bhutia is nicknamed as 'The Sikkimese Sniper' by football-loving fans of the country.
The first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics, Saina Nehwal is also referred to as 'Steffi Saina' - after the legendary tennis player Steffi Graff. Now, one might wonder how did these two racquet sports crossovers happen for the best ever Indian player to be named after someone from a completely different sport? Well, the answer to this question lies in the fact the Nehwal's mother, Usha Nehwal, is a big fan of the tennis star. With her daughter on a rampage in the court much like Steffi, the name Steffi Saina caught up.
One of the greatest chess players of all time, Vishwanath Anand was a child prodigy. When he started rising as someone to reckon with in the world of chess, Anand was still in his early teens. Owing to his abilities to calculate complex positions in a quick time, the pundits then named this rising star from India as, 'The Lightning Kid'.
Former Indian cricket team captain Kapil Dev, who led the Indian team to win their first-ever World Cup in 1983 is nicknamed 'Haryana Hurricane'. He represented the state of Haryana and was known for his energetic run-up and lethal outswingers. With the bat, he was an aggressive lower-middle order batsman who could cause carnage with the bat in an era before helmets, monster bats, or T20s.
Hima Das, nicknamed Dhing Express, is India's heartthrob from Assam. She holds the current Indian national record in 400 meters with a timing of 50.79 s that she clocked at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. She is the first Indian athlete to win a gold medal in a track event at the IAAF World U20 Championships.
Six-time world champion boxing Mary Kom is nicknamed as 'Magnificent Mary' who has been one of the country's best all-time athletes. The Olympic medallist, who is 38-year-old is on the verge to play at the Olympics once again and hopes she can turn her bronze medal into gold.
Karnam Malleswari is a retired Indian weightlifter. She is the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Olympics. In 1995, she received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna India's highest sporting honour, and in 1999, the civilian Padma Shri award. Her strength fetched her the nickname "Iron Lady"