Neeraj Chopra, 24
Olympic Gold medallist & Javelin Thrower (New)
50th rank on the list
In Tokyo last year, he became only the second Indian sportsperson to win a gold medal at the 2021 Olympics, and the first track-and-field athlete to finish on the top of the podium. The feat propelled the javelin thrower to an unprecedented level of popularity. According to reports, he also became the second-most expensive athlete in India after Virat Kohli and was the most mentioned athlete globally on Instagram during the Olympics. Chopra is conscious of his stardom. He has oozed charm in public events but at the same time, not shied from making stern statements, as was evident when his words regarding a Pakistani javelin thrower were twisted out of context.
Winning the gold medal at the Olympics.
This is again a packed year for the young athlete, with the World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games set to be held in quick succession.
By the way
He is a photography and automobile enthusiast. He keeps track of new car launches and has recently purchased a second-hand sports car because of a long waiting period to buy a brand new model.
Rohit Sharma, 34
Indian cricket captain (New)
69th rank on the list
Sharma has grown in stature having been crowned India’s all-format captain. Once seen as a batsman with a questionable temperament for the longer version, he has been the team’s highest scorer in Tests in the last few years, with 906 runs in 11 games. Leading one of the most popular Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises and winning five titles for Mumbai Indians add to his captaincy mettle.
Sharma has a big say in the selection of players and their place in the playing XI. By being the long-standing successful captain of an influential IPL, he has powerful backers among stakeholders.
India hasn’t won an ICC tournament since 2013. He has two World Cups to set the record straight — the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year and the 50-over World Cup in India next year.
By the way
He loves Mumbai’s street food and vacations in Spain and Greece.
Virat Kohli, 33
Former India Cricket team captain (2021 Rank: 83)
80th rank in the list
Though he is no longer the captain, the Kohli brand hasn’t yet been dented. He still retains the charisma to fill stadium seats and sell products. For his 100th Test in Mohali, BCCI had to roll back on their decision to hold the game behind closed doors, apparently because of the social media outrage of Kohli fans. His support of teammate Mohammed Shami, target of hate-mongers, was a powerful statement. For his IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore, he remains an immensely vital cog in the wheel.
With 186 million Instagram followers and another 47.2 million on Twitter, Kohli is one of the biggest influencers around. The BCCI felt the full force of it during the recent captaincy debate.
Kohli’s challenge would be to not let the tag of former captain dent his famous run-making drive.
By the way
Kohli is a good mimic.