At this time of the year when a very successful 2009 has almost come to an end it surely is a good time to bring back the names of the sports persons who proved their mettle in their respective fields and made us realize that even in India, the definition of sports does not start and end at cricket. Be it tennis or badminton, golf or boxing, our players were almost everywhere. A small profile of the achievements of these players is mentioned below to bring the endeavors back in your minds:
1. Somdev Devvarman (Tennis):
The 24-year-old, who was talked about as the next big thing ever since his debut in the Davis Cup match against Japan last year, from the very beginning of his career was expected to bring a singles grand slam title to India which is an achievement that biggies like Mahesh Bhupathi have also not achieved. He created history in January by becoming the first Indian to reach the final of the ATP Chennai Open.
He beat the likes of former World No.1 Carlos Moya and Croat Ivo Karlovic on his way to the finals. Somdev spearheaded the Indian challenge in their Davis Cup second round win against Chinese Taipei and later along with Rohan Bopanna took India into the World Group finals after 11 years, beating South Africa at Johannesburg in the play-off. Somdev also became the first Indian men’s player to qualify for the singles main draw of a Grand Slam event in seven years in the US Open. These achievements brought back the hope to tennis lovers that the era of Indian success at the tennis court has not ended with the growing age of Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Peas and the deteriorating form of Sania Mirza.
2. Chinnaswamy Muniyappa (Golf):
For a man who caddied for one rupee during his childhood, winning the Indian Open in October was a life-transforming moment.
The win fetched Muniyappa the Rookie of the Year title after the 32-year-old finished his season in 10th place on the Order of Merit with $223,269 through one win and three other top-25 finishes. The caddie-turned-pro was the lone Indian in Asian Tour’s annual roll of honour.
3. Gautam Gambhir (Cricket):
The year has been outstanding for Indian opener Gautam Gambhir. He won the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Test Player of the Year award in October. In July, he held the number one Test ranking, though for only 10 days.
He scored two centuries in New Zealand that included a match saving knock at Napier where he batted for about 11 hours at a stretch which is an achievement in itself. Gambhir carried his form in the home Test series against Sri Lanka, hitting back-to-back tons at Ahmedabad and Kanpur. Four centuries in successive Tests gave him a place in the elite circle as the third Indian batsmen after Sunil Gavaskar and Rahul Dravid to achieve the feat.
4. Vijender Singh (Boxing):
After last year’s Olympic bronze, boxer Vijender Singh proved that what happened in 2008 was not by fluke or luck. Many people started making comments on his involvement with bollywood and the glamour world but Vijender silenced his critics when he won a bronze medal in the World Championship in September, the first-ever medal for India in the Championship.
Later in the month, the boxer added yet another feat becoming the world’s number one boxer in the middle weight (75kg) category, the first Indian ever to do so. He was awarded the Khel Ratna.
5. Saina Nehwal (Badminton): After a stupendous 2008, wherein she reached the quarterfinals of the Olympics and also won the most ‘Promising Player of the Year’ award, Saina carried on from where she left last year.
The 19-year-old Indian created history in June when she became the first Indian to win a Super Series title with the Indonesian Open in Jakarta. She touched her career-high ranking of six in July. Saina was also awarded the Arjuna Award this year for her achievements.
These sports persons have shown their guts and silenced the people of other countries by proving that sports in India is a lot more than cricket.
What do you think? Who according to you are the top sports persons of 2009.
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