Dubai: For Indian sport, the 2018 was an eventful year which meant much more than the cricket captain Virat Kohli’s exploits — if the medals tally at the Commonwealth Games or Asian Games is anything to go by.
M.C. Mary Kom showed she has enough fire left in the belly when she became the first woman boxer to win six World Championship gold medals.
The 35-year-old mother of three won the gold medal beating Northern Ireland’s Kristina O’Hara with a unanimous 5-0 verdict and then followed that up with a record sixth title at the Boxing World Championships in New Delhi.
Saikhom Mirabai Chanubroke, another iconic sportswoman from Manipur, sunk six records in six lifts to storm her way to gold in the women’s 48kg weightlifting event in the Commonwealth Games.
Indian athletes too proved that they are a force to reckon with at the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
At CWG 2018 earlier this year, India won 66 medals which included 26 gold, 20 silver and 20 bronze while in the Asian Games in Indonesia, India bagged 69 medals with 15 gold, 24 silver and 30 bronze.
Fifteen-year-old Anish Bhanwala, who stormed his way into the gold medal with a Games record in the men’s 25m rapid fire pistol event at the Belmont Shooting Centre, became the country’s youngest-ever gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games. This Haryana Grade X student, who was granted an extension by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to prepare for the Games, stood out among experienced shooters through the event to emerge the champion.
Neeraj Chopra, meanwhile, is known as Indian javelin’s wonder boy. Twenty-year-old Chopra, who also hails from Haryana, became the first Indian javelin thrower to claim a gold medal at the CWG, his feat giving India its fourth individual track-and-field gold medal winner in CWG history. At the Asian Games too, he won the gold medal setting the national record of 88.06m.
In the Asian Games, 16-year-old Saurabh Chaudhary caught the attention of the shooters around the world by clinching a gold medal in the men’s 10m Air Pistol event. Incidentally, Chaudhary, who hails from a family of farmers, is only the fifth Indian shooter to take home a gold in the history of the Asian Games.
In badminton, a sport which has seen a revolution of sorts in India, the shuttlers continued to keep the flag flying with the two divas: P.V. Sindhu and veteran Saina Nehwal being at their best. Sindhu erased the choker tag to win the BWF World Tour Finals title after five silver medals in 2018. Twenty-eight-year-old Saina, who got married to fellow badminton player Parupalli Kashyap in December, overcame fitness problems to come back to add to her glittering array of titles.
Male shuttlers too impressed at the world stage with Sameer Verma winning the Swiss Open Super 300, Syed Modi International Super 300 and the Hyderabad Open Super 100. He also reached the semi-finals of the World Tour Finals and claimed the Dutch Open Super 100 event in October. Junior player Lakshya Sen clinched the Asian Junior Championship title and also bagged the silver and bronze at the Youth Olympic Games and World Junior Championships, respectively.
In tennis, 25-year-old Ankita Raina turned heads when she emulated the feat of her compatriot Sania Mirza in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha by winning a bronze medal at the Asian Games.
In April this year, she had entered the top-200 singles rankings, becoming only the fourth Indian women to achieve this feat.