(This is a guest article by Anita Lobo)
Sports & social media have received a lot of attention worldwide, particularly over the opportunity or threat twitter represents. However, the adoption of twitter by the athletes has been considerably slower in India.
This list presents top sports tweeps i.e. the ‘early adopters’ who actively reach out to fans and foster a community of interest and dialogue. A cross-section of athletes from varied disciplines, sports journalists, and one notable sports administrator are here – all of whom share a remarkable view from the front lines of sport in India.
Silver medalist, Men’s Double Trap at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. Chilly’s win at the 2004 Silver Olympics is widely regarded as a turning point in India’s performance at the Olympic & Commonwealth Games. He is an inspiration to peers as well as young sportsmen, across disciplines.
2. @karunchandhok/ Karun Chandhok/ Racing/ Racing driver:
Won the first ever Asian Formula Renault V6 Championship and had a historic win as an Indian racer at an F1 weekend at the Spa circuit in Belgium, 2007. Karun is among the few Indian racers who are seriously pursuing a F1 slot. David Coulthard recently stated that Karun has the talent to make it!
3. @sainanehwal/ Saina Nehwal/ Badminton/ Badminton champion:
Ranked no. 6 in the world, this young sportswoman is the first Indian woman to clinch the World Junior Badminton Championship in Nov 2008 and the first Indian to win a Super Series title [Indonesian Open/ June 2009]. In a sport dominated by Chinese shuttlers, Saina is considered a formidable opponent. She is widely recognised for being among the few Indian women & athletes who are among the top 10 of their sport, at world levels.
4. @gokeshavan/ Shiva Keshavan/ Luge/ India’s three-time Winter Games Olympian:
Shiva was the youngest-ever Luge Olympian at the Nagano Winter Olympic Games and has represented India at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games 2002, Olympic Winter Games 2006. He won bronze at the Asian Championships, Nagano 2008-09.
5. @coachcyrus/ Cyrus Poncha/ Squash/ Coach to India’s national team:
Among the most respected squash coaches in the world, Cryrus has been feted as Asian Junior coach of the year 2003 and 2004. He received India’s highest national honour awarded to coaches, the Dronacharya Award in 2005. He trains India’s squash team and also blogs regularly to keep together India’s small but extremely active group of squash enthusiasts.
6. @MahendraDhoni/ Mahendra Singh Dhoni/ Cricket/ India’s national cricket team captain:
Dhoni is the most popular captain in recent times of India’s national cricket team – appealing to fans, peers and connoisseurs of cricket. India’s national team also has had a very successful win record under his captaincy. A swashbuckling batsman, Dhoni is a sponsors’ delight and recently topped a Forbes magazine list of the world’s top earning cricketers at USD 10 million.
7. @prempanicker/ Prem Panicker/ Sports writer/ Cricket expert, Editor India Abroad & rediff.com:
A journalist for over 17 years, cricket expert and sports writer with a legendary following. Prem combines knowledge & humour with inimitable style over his tweet-stream that on any given day is a delightful commentary about sport and the quirky people who make it worth watching!
8. @SpiceBoxofEarth/ Dileep Premachandran/ Sports writer/ Associate editor, Cricinfo:
Leading cricket writer and an expert on the game in India, Dileep is the Asian cricket correspondent for the Sunday Times (London), Inside Sport and writer for the Guardian, Sunday Times and SA Cricket.
9. @Soumya1910/ Soumya Bhattacharya/ Sports writer/ author of ‘You Must Like Cricket’?:
Editor of Hindustan Times [in Mumbai]. Soumya’s book ‘You Must Like Cricket?’ was one of the notable books of the year for the award-winning Observer Sport Monthly magazine in the UK. Soumya juggles editorial duties around game schedules.
10. @LalitKModi/ Lalit K Modi/ Administrator/ IPL Chairman & Commissioner:
The brain behind IPL, Lalit Modi wields tremendous power over India’s cricket establishment and has recently begun tweeting. BCCI’s gag order on cricketers prevents them from tweeting or blogging or engaging in any form of social media, without their permission. Is Modi on twitter a sign that BCCI’s gag order might change too?
11. @satyabratadam/ Satyabrata Dam/ Mountaineering/ Adventurer:
While mountaineering isn’t a conventional competitive sport, Satyabrata is about pushing the boundaries and has inspired a wave of mountaineering and sports enthusiasts. Satyabrata has climbed nearly all major peaks worldwide, including the Mount Everest from the tough Northern face. He is the Joint Director (Mountaineering) of the Indian Navy’s Adventure & Sports division.
12. @jdbasketball/ JD Walsh/ Basketball/ American basketball coach, spreading basketball in India:
JD Walsh is an ‘honorary Indian’ for the remarkable training programs and the community outreach he’s involved with. JD has help over 100 training camps for aspiring hoopsters and coaches, across India. He regularly conducts programs that reach out to underprivileged children and people affected by violence, through the Hoops for Health & Peace programs.
13. @bhavikdotcom/ Bhavik Gandhi/ Yachting/ Yatchsman:
World record-holder for rowing solo across the Atlantic, spending 106 days at sea. Bhavik was voted among the top 5 sports personalities of the Year 2007 by Outside Magazine and is a RYA qualified Yacht Master. Bhavik has played an important role in changing India’s perception in the sailing & yachting world.
‘Cricket is a religion in India & that’s where the big money is’ – you’ll hear this ad nauseum about India, which is still an emerging market that offers great opportunities for sports marketing.
What’s frequently overlooked is that a diverse group of sports – golf, shooting, tennis, badminton – are attracting more fans as Indians perform better on the international circuit.
Both newbie sponsors who find the entry cost of cricket prohibitive, as well as seasoned ‘mega’ sponsors are increasingly seeing merit in spreading their risks [beyond cricket] and building brand associations with a diverse group of sports.
Part 2 will feature sports entities i.e. marketers, news sources, and clubs that have a significant following in India.