Year in Review: 10 Indian Sports Achievements You Might Have Missed in 2017

“India is a star loving country, not a sport loving country,” Ashish Nehra winced as he said this after he played his last International game. This coming from a sportsperson who represented India for almost 20 years warrants alarm bells.

Mahavir Singh Phogat – the wrestler on whose life the blockbuster movie Dangal is based – does not like cricket at all. He feels that cricket has done irreparable harm to other Indian sports. “Watching cricket on TV was uncalled for at home,” quips Geeta Phogat. In fact, Mahavir’s nephew got a sound thrashing several times when he returned home after playing cricket.

However, the times are ‘really’ changing with Indians getting better at badminton, kabaddi, hockey and football. With the advent of leagues and more televised sports, the sporting culture will only spring up in India.

Like every year, numerous sportspersons sweat it out for hours and hours. However, they did not get their due share of recognition by virtue of our ‘benevolent’ media. Even if they managed to get a place in the innermost pages of newspapers, they were gently brushed aside by the ‘magnanimous’ public.

Therefore, it’s high time that we update ourselves with the proceedings of Indian sports.

Here’s a look at 10 sportspersons who brought laurels to India in 2017.

Trisha Deb – Archery

Trisha Deb, Lily Chanu celebrate Jyothi Surekha after winning the silver medal at the World Championships.

Trisha Deb is a 26-year-old archer. She was born in Kolkata in West Bengal, the state which has produced star archer Dola Banerjee.

Career till now

Trisha got involved in archery in the year 2000 in the Bada Nagar Archery club in Kolkata. She went on to make her international debut in 2013. The right-handed archer uses 25" long arrows and her draw weight is 52 lbs. She won a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games both in compound archery event as well as the team event held in Incheon.

Heroics in 2017

Trisha led India to its fifth medal at the World Championships in 2017. The Indian trio of Trisha Deb, Lily Chanu Paonam and Jyothi Surekha Vennam were aiming for gold but they lost 228-234 to their Colombian opponents in the finals. This silver medal is India’s first medal in the compound team archery section at the World Championships.

Ajay Thakur – Kabaddi

Tamil Thalaivas’ Ajay Thakur in action.

Ajay Thakur is a 31-year-old kabaddi player. Ajay belongs to Nalagarh district of Himachal Pradesh and is the current captain of the national team.

Career till now

Ajay comes from a kabaddi lineage. His uncle is a kabaddi coach and his cousin, Rakesh Kumar, is a professional kabaddi player. His father was a wrestler himself. Ajay Thakur stands out due to his clever raids and his trademark ‘frog jump’. He has made immense contributions in Indian wins in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup, 2014 Asian Games and 2016 South Asian Games. In the Pro Kabaddi League, he played for Bengaluru Bulls in the first two seasons before switching to the Puneri Paltan.

Heroics in 2017

In 2017, Ajay Thakur was made the captain of the Indian kabaddi team prior to the Asian Kabaddi Championship. It was his raids in the first ten minutes of the final match against arch rivals Pakistan that swayed the momentum in India’s favour. The team went on to defeat Pakistan 36-22 in the final at Gorgan, Iran to lay their hands on the Asian Kabaddi Championship trophy.

Neeraj Chopra – Javelin Throw

Neeraj Chopra is a 20-year-old javelin thrower. He lives in Khandra, Panipat in Haryana.

Career till now

Neeraj has won gold medals both in 2016 South Asian Games held in India and 2016 IAAF World U-20 Championship in Poland. Though his gold medal brought more disappointment than happiness for him as his throw of 82.23 m which equalled the Indian national record, fell just short of the 83 m mark. 83 metres was the qualifying distance for the IAAF World Championships.

Heroics in 2017

Neeraj won gold in the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships held in Bhubaneswar. He also finished fifth in a 10-man elite field after producing a best effort of 84.67 m at the prestigious Diamond League in Paris. Neeraj’s personal best record is 86.48 m.

Gadde Ruthvika Shivani – Badminton

Ruthvika Shivani is a 20-year-old badminton player. She was born in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh. She currently lives in Telangana.

Career till now

Ruthvika Shivani is one of the most gifted badminton players being polished in the Gopichand Badminton Academy. Shivani gradually made the shift from junior to senior professional badminton in 2014-15 where she has won seven medals including five golds.

Heroics in 2017

In 2017, she won the Tata Open India International defeating her opponent Mukherjee Riya. This victory was all-the-more special as Shivani was making a comeback after a long time following her knee injury. Shivani also made it to the quarter-finals of the Vietnam Open this year.

Sumit Nagal – Tennis

File photo of Sumit Nagal.

Sumit Nagal is a 20-year-old tennis player. He was born in Jhajjar in Haryana and spent his early life in Delhi and Sonipat, Haryana.

Career till now

He has trained in Bangalore, Canada and Germany. In 2015, he won the Boys' Wimbledon doubles title with his Vietnamese partner Ly Hoang Nam. He became only the sixth Indian tennis player to win a junior Grand Slam Title.

Heroics in 2017

In 2017, Sumit bagged his first Challenger title. He defeated Blaz Kavcic in quarter-finals, Yuki Bhambri in semis and Jay Clarke in the final to create history by clinching the first edition of the 2017 ATP Challenger Tour known as Bengaluru Challenger.

Karman Kaur Thandi – Tennis

File photo of Karman Kaur Thandi.

Karman Kaur Thandi is a 19-year-old right-handed tennis player. She was born and brought up in Delhi.

Career till now

She is the winner of two ITF Doubles Women’s Circuit titles held in India (2015) and Greece (2017) with her partner Dhruthi Tatachar Venugopal. She is also the runner-up of four doubles tournaments.

Heroics in 2017

Karman Thandi attained her career high WTA singles ranking of 307 this year after her career high WTA doubles ranking of 566 that she had reached in 2016. Karman has also been the runner up in 2 ITF singles titles held in China and India this year.

Shivani Kataria – Swimming

File photo of Shivani Kataria.

Shivani Kataria is a 20-year-old swimmer. She was born and brought up in Gurugram, Haryana and started swimming at the age of six.

Career till now

Shivani stepped into professional swimming in 2012 after bagging several awards at the inter-school and district level. She won a gold medal at the 2016 South Asian Games and represented India in the 2016 Rio Olympics as a wild card entry.

Heroics in 2017

In 2017, Shivani bagged the Best Swimmer Award at 71st Glenmark Senior National Aquatic Championship with 4 gold medals and 2 meet records. She also clinched the gold medal at the Asian Swimming Championship held in Uzbekistan in September this year.

Swastika Ghosh - Table Tennis

Swastika Ghosh is a 14-year-old table tennis sensation. She belongs to Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra.

Career till now

At the tender age of 10, she won the National Ranking Central Zone Table Tennis Championship in Gandhidham, Gujarat in 2013. At the same time she became the under-12 All India Rank-1. Swastika represented India in ITTF Belgium, Portugal and Spanish Open. She also captained the Indian sub-junior team for South Asian Federation Games held in Pakistan.

Heroics in 2017

Swastika won the State Table Tennis Championship held in Nanded, Maharashtra this year. She also won a bronze in the Youth girl’s category in the same tournament.

Aditi Ashok – Golf

File photo of Aditi Ashok.

Aditi Ashok is a 19-year-old golfer. She lives in Bangalore.

Career till now

Aditi started playing Golf at the age of 5. Her amateur wins include the 2011 Hero Professional Tour Leg 1 and Leg 3. She remains the only Indian golfer to play the Asian Youth Games (2013), Youth Olympic Games (2014), Asian Games (2014) and Olympic Games (2016). Aditi is the first Indian to win a Ladies European Tour title. She also won the Rookie of the Year award in 2016.

Heroics in 2017

In 2017, Aditi has won the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open. She has also earned a LPGA Tour card for 2017 through the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament which made her the first Indian to do so. She reached another milestone this year when she featured in the Top 100 ranked women golfers in the world.

Aadil Bedi – Golf

File photo of Aadil Bedi.

Aadil bedi is a 16-year-old golfer. He has his roots in Chandigarh.

Career till now

Aadil started playing golf when he was just four years old, an age in which children generally get enrolled in school. He became All India Rank 1 player in the year 2011 in D category (10 years and under) and repeated the same in 2013 in C (11-12 years cat). He finished 6th in the World Junior Masters at Las Vegas, USA.

Heroics in 2017

The major Championships that he has won in 2017 include Western India Amateur BPGC, SSG BLA Singapore Amateur and World Star Championships. He finished runner-up in the National Amateur Golf Championship held in Hyderabad this year.

(Saksham Mishra is a budding sports journalist and a student of Radio and TV journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.)

(This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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