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India's sporting prowess

Indias sporting prowess

As the year draws to a close, the hindsight always enriches the total experience of the year itself. The highs, the lows perfectly aligned to make a pretty picture of the complete year. India rose to new heights in sports with record-breaking performances across disciplines, raising the benchmark in the process. The beginner's luck for the young ones coupled with the successes of the experienced gave India a lot to celebrate. Women had a wonderful year to relish their performances and draw motivation for the future. The Indian sporting calendar for 2018 can be looked upon as substantial precedent for an energised approach in 2019. Asian Games, Commonwealth Games (CWG), Youth Olympics, et al. India gasped Neeraj Chopra's expertise in the javelin throw, recording successive wins in both CWG and Asian Games. The 21-year-old's eye for perfection has not only captivated India but sparked hope for unprecedented success in Tokyo 2020. Pegged on the same note is PV Sandhu who graciously rode through the fable 'choker' garb struck the winning stroke to clinch the first position in the World Tour Finals, beating world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying. While India observed their feat, the young shooters gave plenty of more reasons to augment the celebrations. 16-year-old Manu Bhaker and 15-year-old Anish Bhanwala hit gold in the CWG while 16-year-old Saurabh Choudhary and 15-year-old Shardul Vihan repeated the feat in Asian Games to announce the world of India's shooting prowess and its young demographic. Indian shooters put up an exceptional performance to carry India's hope in the coming years ever since Abhinav Bindra's Olympic gold elated the nation and rose the Tricolour to the highest in the discipline. On the wrestling mat, Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat stormed their way to successive golds in CWG and Asian Games, portraying India's stronghold in the wrestling discipline. We could not forget Saina Nehwal from her previous exploits and she gave us more to smile for with gold in CWG and a bronze in Asian Games. Table tennis surprised the nation with the rise of Manika Batra. The Delhiite claimed four medals, including two gold, in the CWG before combining with veteran Sharath Kamal for a historic mixed doubles bronze at the Asiad, where India delivered its best-ever medal haul. Manika gave India hope in the discipline that has seen China outdo India in the Asian Games almost all the time. While India stood startled at these performances, it got its first-ever woman track-and-field world champion at any level after 18-year-old Hima Das procured under-20 400m gold in Asian Games 2018. The nation could draw comparisons to its most famous women athlete P T Usha who had made India rethink a woman's resolve in the field. As if we could ever overlook Weightlifting, Indian weightlifters bagged a total of nine medals, including five golds, two silvers, and as many bronzes to give India its routine medals. While the discipline gave us cherishable moments and a young star in Jeremy Lalrinnunga, who scripted history by giving India its first ever Olympic gold in the sport with his Youth Games gold, it took away the sheen through the failed doping test of Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Sanjita Chanu. Mirabai Chanu made India proud via her gold in Asian Games but it still ended on a low for the weightlifting fraternity. While these disciplines attracted much of our attention, it was the cueist Pankaj Advani who added a 21st world title to his trophy cabinet and golfer Shubhankar Sharma, who won the Maybank Malaysia Open. Edging past the names, every last individual who made India accel in all disciplines across the sporting world deserves a piece of the celebratory laugh that India can have while heading into the new year. Many more names that add to the honour list and many which strive to. Mission 2020 of securing unprecedented success in the Tokyo Olympics has seen a bright year in 2019 with so many laurels to satisfy our appetite for success. India had an average stance throughout the year in hockey as it suffered in all competitions. No medal in CWG, third-place in Asian Games and a painful quarter-final exit in the Hockey World Cup marked a depressing low for the country. While hockey disappointed, Cricket also gave us jitters with defeats against South Africa and England before defeating Australia to save some honour. It may have been an explosive performance from the team but Virat Kohli's rise in form and Indian cricket's new Fab-5 of Bumrah-Shami-Ishant-Ashwin-Jadeja, all bowlers, who have given India a new hope for the upcoming 2019 Cricket World Cup. Lastly, we can continue to believe the 'old is gold' phrase as we witnessed Mary Kom finish the year for herself and the sporting fraternity with four gold medals — including a record sixth world title and the CWG top honours. As rightly put, there would not be another Mary Kom and her performance stands testimony to that!

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