It’s been a year of many firsts for Indian sportswomen. From the Rio Olympics to the Paralympics to golf, Indian sportswomen are in the limelight like never before and boy, is it time! These are some of the women who absolutely killed it this year:
The first gymnast to represent India at the Olympic games in 52 years as well as the first Indian female gymnast ever! Despite a number of obstacles (her physical therapist was originally denied permission to travel with her and only rushed to Rio when it was confirmed Karmakar would qualify for the finals). Though she missed a bronze by a whisker, she became one of five women in Olympic history to land the extremely difficult Produnova Vault.
The first to break India’s medal drought in the Rio Olympics, the young woman from Haryana became the first female wrestler from India to win an Olympic Gold medal! Despite facing protests at an early age for pursuing a sport “not meant for girls”, her parents supported her and she went on to win a Silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games before winning a bronze at the Olympic Games. She was part of a contingent along with other female wrestlers like Babita Kumari and Geeta Phogat.
Who can forget that heart-stopping moment when PV Sindhu beat world number 2, Wang Yihan, to storm into the badminton semi-finals of the Rio Olympics? At that moment, she captured the hearts and souls of an entire nation. With her win, she made history by becoming the youngest (and first!) woman from India to get an Olympic silver medal.
The Paralympics always fall into the shadow of the Olympics, but sportswomen like Malik put it back in the limelight once again! She overcame a spinal tumour and multiple stitches to win a silver medal at the shotput at the Paralympics and is in fact, the first Indian woman to do so – one of her many achievements! Not only that, but she had previously undergone an eight-day drive in sub-zero temperatures as a part of Raid de Himalayas, proof of her indomitable spirit.
While not too many people knew about her achievements, Babar became the first Indian in 32 years to enter the final of any track event at the Olympics (the previous being PT Usha). She has also won a silver medal at 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea as well as winning gold at the 2015 Asian games, breaking not only her record but also the Indian national record as well the Asian Games record!
She put woman’s golf on the map! She is the first Indian golfer to play four major events – The Asian Youth Games (2013), The Youth Olympic Games (2014), The Asian Games (2014) and The Rio Olympics (2016) and is also the youngest to boot! While she didn’t win a medal this Olympics, Ashok said she hoped that “women’s golf has become a bit popular. I’m hoping to see it grow in coming time.” She has undoubtedly helped in contributing to that.
After winning the gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games and the bronze at 2014 Asian Games, they qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, a first since 1980! They also won the maiden Women’s Asian Champions Trophy tournament this November, beating China 2-1.
Chand had several rocky moments in her careers, such as when she was dropped from the 2014 Commonwealth Games contingent due to “hyperandrogenism”, despite the fact there was no proof that she had been doping at all. She overcame this and came back to qualify for the Rio Olympics by breaking the national record for sprinting twice.