Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore AVSM (born 29 January 1970) is an Indian politician and a former professional shooter. As a shooter, competing in the double trap event, he won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic Games. In a career spanning over a decade, he also won multiple medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2005.
Rathore served as a commissioned officer in The Grenadiers regiment of the Indian Army before retiring in 2013 as a colonel. Following his retirement from the Army and shooting, he became the member of the parliament for the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014. In November 2014, was made the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting. Rathore was appointed as a Cabinet minister with independent charge for Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in 2017.
Early life and military career
Rathore was born in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan to Colonel Lakshman Singh Rathore(retd). He belongs to a Rajput descendant of First king of Bikaner Rao Bikaji’s family based in Bikaner. Rajyavardhan singhs 3 uncle living in Bikaner eldest uncle retd Brigadier Jagmal singh rathore highly decorated by indian army with Veer chakra & VsM and having a home stay (shri ram heritage) as well a resort in name of Rao Bikaji camel safari. 2ed retd as doctor & 3rd one retd as sarpanch of Garebdeshar Village.
Rathore is a graduate of the 77th Course of the prestigious National Defence Academy. After graduating from the NDA, Rathore attended the Indian Military Academy where he was awarded with the Sword of Honor for the best all-round Gentleman Cadet. He was also the recipient of the Sikh Regiment Gold Medal, awarded to the best sportsman of the course.
He was later commissioned in the 9th Grenadiers (Mewar) Regiment. As part of his career in the Indian Army, he served in Jammu and Kashmir, where he participated in counter-terrorist operations. His regiment was awarded with the Army Chief’s Citation and the Governor of J&K’s Citation for exemplary work.
At the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Rathore won a Gold Medal and set a new Commonwealth Games Record of 192 targets out of 200, which still stands. He also won the Team Gold Medal along with Moraad Ali Khan. Rathore, went on to successfully defend his Commonwealth Champion title by winning the Gold Medal at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006. He also won the Silver in the Team event with Vikram Bhatnagar. He won Gold Medals in two World Shooting Championships, at Sydney in 2004 and Cairo in 2006.
Rathore rose to prominence when he won the silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics. It was India’s first ever individual silver at the Olympics.
In 2006, Rathore won a Bronze Medal in the World Championship in Spain, an event held for the top 12 shooters of the world. He was ranked third in the world for the most of 2003 and 2004 and briefly climbed to the first in early 2004 and second after the Athens Olympics. He won a Silver at the World Championship in 2003 in Sydney for India after a gap of nearly 40 years. India had not seen a victory since Karni Singh of Bikaner, who won a Silver at the 1962 World shooting Championship in Cairo. Rathore is accredited for winning the Asian Clay Target Gold Medal for four times in a row from 2003 to 2006. He also holds an Individual Bronze Medal which at the Asian Games 2006 in Doha.
Between 2002 and 2006 he won 25 International Medals at various championships for Double Trap.
In 2011, Rathore participated in the Asian Clay Target Championship in Kuala Lumpur and won gold. His score of 194 in that tournament equals world record.
On 10 September 2013, Rathore joined Bharatiya Janata Party after taking retirement from the Indian Army. He was elected as a MP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Jaipur Rural constituency. On 9 November 2014, he was sworn-in as the Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, under the Narendra Modi government. He was appointed as the Minister of Sports on 3 September 2017.
Awards and recognitions
- 2005 – Padma Shri
- 2004-2005 – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (Highest Sporting Honour of India).
- 2003-2004 – Arjuna Award
- Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM), military award for exceptional service, presented by the President of India on behalf of the Government of India.
- Rathore was the chosen flag bearer for India during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
- Rathore was the chosen flag bearer for India during the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia
- 1990 – the Sword Of Honour (For the Best All Round Officer Cadet at the Indian Military Academy).
- 1990 – the Sikh Regiment Gold Medal (For the Best Sportsmen at the Indian Military Academy).
- 1989 – the Blazer (Highest sports award at the National Defence Academy, Pune, India).