Rajyavardhan Rathore: From Olympian to sports minister
Today's cabinet reshuffle has been interesting for several reasons. One of them is that for the first time, a sportsperson is heading the sports ministry. Olympian Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, former MoS Information and Broadcasting, replaced Vijay Goel as sports minister; Goel has been moved to Parliamentary Affairs. Since the time he stepped into a shooting range in the 1990s, Rathore's journey has grabbed eyeballs.
Colonel Rathore joined the forces after clearing the NDA. The experience in the army's marksmanship unit helped him in his sports career. He practised in Delhi's Tughlaqabad shooting range. In 2004, he broke records by becoming India's first individual silver medal winner at the Olympics (men's double trap). He battled a patella fracture and a prolapsed disc for the feat.
In 2013, he took premature retirement from the army and joined the BJP. In 2014, he was elected as an MP. When Modi came to power, Rathore was made minister of state for information and broadcasting.
While at the I&B, Rathore found himself at the centre of more than one controversy, including when he said women journalists shouldn't go reporting on the field, and when he allegedly revealed sensitive defence information on a news channel. For the latter, he even received a dressing down from the High Command. However, he was known as a diligent and competent minister.
The new sports minister has challenges ahead: Rathore has to ensure a free and fair pro-citizen sports bill and keep politicians out of sports bodies. He has to work towards India's performance on world platforms and assist emerging talent. His predecessor didn't set a high benchmark: Goel was known more for his 'selfie' controversies than work. But the sportspersons community is happy for now.