Karnam Malleswari (born 1 June 1975) is a retired Indian weightlifter. She is the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Olympics. In 1995, she received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, India’s highest sporting honour, and in 1999, the civilian Padma Shri award.
Malleswari won the world title in the 54 kg division in 1994 and 1995 and placed third in 1993 and 1996.
In 1994, she won silver at the World Championships in Istanbul and in 1995 she won the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Korea in the 54 kg category. She won the title in China that year with a record lift of 113 kg at the World Championships. Even before her Olympic win, Malleswari was a two-time weightlifting world champion with 29 international medals, which includes 11 gold medals.
At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Malleswari lifted 110 kg in the “snatch” and 130 kg in the “clean and jerk” categories for a total of 240 kg. She won the bronze medal and became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. She is also the first and only Indian woman weightlifter to win an Olympic medal.
Malleswari was born in Voosavanipeta, a hamlet in Andhra Pradesh. She has four sisters and all are well trained in weightlifting. She started her career when she was 12 and was trained under coach Neelamshetty Appanna.
She moved to Delhi with her sister and was soon spotted by the Sports Authority of India. Then in 1990, Malleshwari joined the national camp and four years later, she was a world championship winner in the 54-kg class.
In 1997, she married a fellow weightlifter Rajesh Tyagi, and in 2001 gave birth to a son. She planned to return to competitions at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, but withdrew due to the death of her father. She retired after failing to score at the 2004 Olympics. She currently lives in Yamunanagar with her husband and works at Food Corporation of India as Chief General Manager (General Administration).