Award Name : Arjuna Award
Year of Award : 1991
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Rajeev Bagga is an Indian born deaf badminton player, who represents Britain. He was Indian national champion, and reached main stage of the 1990 All England Open Badminton Championships, the only deaf person to do so. He has won 12 golds and been singles champion at the Deaflympics from 1989 to 2001, and was named 'Deaflympian of the Century by the Comite International des Sports des Sourds in 2001. In 1991, he won India's highest sports honour, the Arjuna award. He was born on 6th April 1967. He is hailing from Mumbai, Maharashtra. Rajeev Bagga comes from an army family. At 12 months after his birth, he lost his hearing forever after a severe bout of meningitis. His father, Brigadier S R Bagga, was an active racquet sportsman. His mother was also a state-level badminton player. His brother and sister are also sportsmen, his brother having played at the national level in squash, and also defeated him in key badminton finals in the year 1981.
Initially, Rajeev Bagga used to prefer playing squash in India. In 1981, Rajeev won the sub-junior title in squash, when he was only 13 years old. He played in the Junior nationals for several years, and won the Maharashtra State Level Championship for Badminton five times in a row and eventually became national champion in 1991. In 1990, Rajeev Bagga reached the main stage of Badminton in the All-England open, defeating the Korean player Ahen Chang in the third round of the qualification. Despite his deafness, Rajeev Bagga is also a notable doubles player, and won the national championships in 1997, partnering with Vinod Kumar, another badminton player. Like most Indian badminton players, Rajeev Bagga had difficulties with sports officialdom. In the year 1993, his participation in the Deaflympics was not formalized by the Badminton Association of India and led to considerable controversy. Rajeev Bagga remains active in sports arena and won the 2008 All-England veteran men's singles. He narrowly missed his sixth Deaflympics gold in 2009. In the year 2003 and 2007, Rajeev Bagga won the gold medal in the men's singles at the World Deaf Badminton Championships.