10 Sports Persons India Should Have Celebrated 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 an irreparable harm to other Indian sports. “Watching cricket on TV was uncalled for at home,” quips Geeta Phogat. In fact, Mahavir’s nephew got scolded several times when he returned home after playing cricket.

The irony is such that in a piece that was supposed to talk about sports other than cricket, the first two paragraphs have been devoted to cricket. However, times are really changing with sports like badminton, kabaddi, hockey and football gradually coming to their own. With the advent of leagues and more televised sports, I believe the sporting culture will only spring up in India.

Like every year, numerous sports-persons sweat it out with hours and hours of hard work and perseverance, in 2017 as well. 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 other than the ‘popular’ ones. In this light let us have a look at 10 sportspersons who brought laurels to themselves and to the nation in 2017.

1. Trisha Deb – Archery

Trisha Deb is a 26-year-old Indian 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 as early as 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 in the women’s individual 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 ended 228-234 to their Colombian opponents in the finals. This silver medal was the first instance when India has won any medal in the compound team archery section at the World Championships.

2. Ajay Thakur – Kabaddi

Ajay Thakur
is a 31-year-old Indian 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’. Ajay has made immense contribution in Indian’s 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.

3. Neeraj Chopra – Javelin

Neeraj Chopra is a 20-year-old Indian Javelin thrower. He hails from Khandra, Panipat in Haryana.

Career till now:

Neeraj won gold medals both in 2016 South Asian Games held in India, and 2016 IAAF World U20 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 84.67m at the prestigious Diamond League in Paris. Neeraj’s personal best record is 86.48m.

4. Gadde Ruthvika Shivani – Badminton

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

Career till now:

Ruthvika Shivani is one of the most gifted Badminton players who are being polished in the Gopichand Badminton Academy. She is being supported by the “Rahul Dravid Athlete Mentorship Programme”. 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. Earlier, she had proved her mettle by defeating PV Sindhu at the 2016 South Asian Games held in Guwahati.

5. Sumit Nagal – Tennis

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

Career till now:

He was selected in the first batch of children as part of Mahesh Bhupathi’s Apollo Tyres Mission 2018 Programme. 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 Finals to create history by clinching the first edition of the 2017 ATP Challenger Tour known as Bengaluru Challeger.

6. Karman Kaur Thandi – Tennis

Karman Kaur Thandi is a 19-year-old right-handed Indian 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 titles.

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 of 2 ITF Singles Titles held in China and India this year.

7. Shivani Kataria – Swimming

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

Career till now:

Shivani steeped 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 four gold medals and two meet records. She also clinched the gold medal at the Asian Swimming Championship held in Uzbekistan in September this year.

8. Swastika Ghosh – Table Tennis

Swastika Ghosh is a 14-year-old Indian 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.

9. Aditi Ashok – Golf

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

Career till now:

Aditi started playing golf at the age of five. 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.

10. Aadil Bedi – Golf

Aadil Bedi is a 16-year-old Indian 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 La 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 as a runner up in the “National Amateur Golf Championship” held in Hyderabad this year.

This article was also published here

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