In 2023, Indian athletes experienced a transformative year that redefined the notion of success across various sports. The year marked several unprecedented achievements and firsts for Indian sportsmen and sportswomen. As a prelude to the upcoming Olympic year in 2024, significant sporting competitions unfolded, providing a platform for Indian athletes to showcase their talents. While not every athlete excelled in every event, there was a notable shift in the perception of success within the country. Indians reached finals in competitions that were once deemed unattainable dreams, breaking barriers and pushing boundaries. In instances where reaching the final was not a first, athletes secured medals and even shattered records. The sports landscape in India witnessed remarkable moments in 2023, setting the stage for elevated expectations and aspirations in the approaching Olympic year.

Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa:

In a historic achievement, Grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa made an indelible mark in the chess world by reaching the final of the FIDE World Cup. Although he is not the first Indian to achieve this feat—credit for that goes to Viswanathan Anand—Praggnanandhaa’s accomplishment is particularly notable as, at the age of 18, he became the youngest player ever to reach the title clash of this prestigious tournament. His remarkable journey included defeating world No. 2 Hikaru Nakamura and world No. 3 Fabiano Caruana. Despite ultimately losing in the final to four-time world champion Magnus Carlsen, Praggnanandhaa’s outstanding performance earned him a coveted spot in the prestigious Candidates tournament in 2024. His resilience and success signal a bright future for Indian chess on the global stage.

Neeraj Chopra:

At the age of 25, Neeraj Chopra has solidified his status as a dominant force in javelin throwing by securing the gold medal at the 2023 World Championships in Budapest. Already holding continental, World, and Olympic titles simultaneously, he joins the elite company of Jan Zelezny and Andreas Thorkildsen. Neeraj’s exceptional year also saw him successfully defend his Asian Games gold medal. Despite his numerous achievements, the fact that he has not yet surpassed the 90m mark suggests that he still has room for improvement and new challenges ahead. Neeraj Chopra’s remarkable success reflects the high level at which he is currently competing and underscores his dedication to continual excellence in his sporting.

Asian Games Shatter 100-Medal Ceiling in Spectacular Fashion:

The Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023 marked a historic moment for Indian sporting as the nation shattered all previous records, securing an unprecedented 107 medals. This remarkable achievement included an impressive tally of 28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze medals. Never before had India exceeded the 100-medal mark at the Asian Games. The event showcased exceptional performances from Indian athletes, with Neeraj Chopra successfully defending his title in javelin throw. Notably, Kishore Jena emerged as a formidable competitor, momentarily leading Neeraj in the competition. Neeraj’s victory required a season’s best throw of 88.88m. Another standout performance came from Avinash Sable, who set an Asian Games record in the men’s 3000m steeplechase. The Hangzhou Asian Games became a watershed moment, symbolizing India’s growing prowess and success on the international sporting stage.

Parul Chaudhary and Jyothi Yarraji left an indelible mark at the Hangzhou Asian Games, each contributing to India’s medal tally with memorable performances. Parul’s extraordinary victory in the 5000m race, characterized by a late surge that allowed her to overtake Ririka Hironaka just before the finish line, made her the first Indian woman to secure gold in the event. This achievement added to her earlier silver in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, showcasing her versatility and prowess on the track.

On the other hand, Jyothi Yarraji faced an unexpected challenge in the women’s 100m hurdles. Despite being the first Indian to win gold in the same event at the Asian Athletics Championships, she was unjustly disqualified for a false start in Hangzhou. Despite clear evidence that China’s Yanni Wu had committed the false start and was supposed to be disqualified, officials erroneously penalized Jyothi. In a remarkable display of resilience, Jyothi protested the decision and stood her ground for over 10 minutes, fighting for justice. Despite the physical toll of the ordeal, she finished third with a sub-13 time, securing a bronze that was later rightfully upgraded to silver.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty:

In a historic achievement, the badminton duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty reached new heights in their career by claiming the No.1 spot in the men’s doubles rankings. Long-standing contributors to Indian badminton, the pair demonstrated exceptional prowess in the sport throughout the year, securing three BWF titles and clinching gold at both the Asian Games and the Asian Badminton Championships. Their outstanding performances collectively propelled them to become the first and only Indians to achieve the top-ranking position in men’s doubles badminton. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty’s remarkable journey and success mark a significant milestone for Indian badminton on the global stage.

Virat Kohli:

In a remarkable display of cricketing excellence, Virat Kohli delivered one of the greatest individual performances in the history of the sporting during the 2023 World Cup, even though it ended in heartbreak for India. Kohli’s outstanding feat included equalling and subsequently surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s seemingly untouchable record of 49 ODI centuries, making him the first player to achieve a staggering 50 tons in the format. Not only did Kohli break Tendulkar’s long-standing record for most centuries, but he also shattered another record held by the cricket legend. Kohli eclipsed Tendulkar’s nearly two-decade-old record for the most runs in a single edition of the World Cup, finishing the 2023 tournament with a remarkable 765 runs, surpassing Tendulkar’s 673 runs in the 2003 World Cup. Kohli’s exceptional performance further solidified his status as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the game.


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