New Delhi [India], Dec 25 : The Year 2019 will go down as one of the turning points in the history of Indian sport as finally, the country started to pay attention and get behind other sports apart from cricket.
In an interaction with ANI earlier this year, hockey player Mandeep Singh said that the players just need to focus on getting laurels for the country and then it will automatically prove as a game-changer with respect to getting admirers towards other sports.
“If we keep on winning medals for the country, the game (hockey) itself will resonate with the youth and people will get attracted to the sport. If people say cricket gets the support, I will add that hockey is also getting the support. If we keep on winning medals, the sport will attract people towards it,” Singh had said.
Who would have known that this statement would actually come true this year itself? Speaking of hockey, both our men’s and women’s teams managed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Qualifying matches for the sport of hockey managed to get wide attention and the entire nation erupted with joy when both the teams managed to qualify for the global event next year.
The year will also be remembered for the heroics of women athletes. Be it shuttler PV Sindhu, boxer Mary Kom or para-athlete Manasi Joshi, all of them managed to shine bright in their respective sport.
Sindhu became the first Indian shuttler to bag a gold medal at the BWF World Championships. Joshi, also managed to win gold at the World Para-Badminton Championships.
Mary Kom was able to win a bronze medal at the Women’s Boxing Championships. In her semi-final bout, the entire country was glued to AIBA’s official Youtube handle to watch the match. When the boxer complained of unfair treatment by the match officials, the entire nation replicated the emotion and got behind the pugilist.
Boxer Manju Rani also managed to win a silver medal at the Women’s Boxing Championships.
In badminton, the duo of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty got themselves nominated in the ‘Most Improved Player’ category by the Badminton World Federation (BWF).
The pair managed to win the Thailand Open this year and also entered the finals of the French Open.
This year Wrestling Championship saw Indian wrestlers put up a dominating performance. Vinesh Phogat, Ravi Kumar, Bajrang Punia and Rahul Aware ended up as bronze medallists whereas Deepak Punia won a silver medal.
India did not manage to showcase an out and outglaring performance in football, but skipper Sunil Chhetri’s message last year worked wonders as audiences packed the stadium in the country’s matches in the qualifying games for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
In 2018, Chhetri had released a video on Twitter, asking the fans to get behind the team. The Blue Tigers may have slipped to 108 in the FIFA rankings, but the country continues to take to football each passing day.
In the South Asian Games, India scripted its highest medal tally as the country finished with 312 medals, including 174 gold, 93 silver, and 45 bronze. They went past their previous best of 309.
The Sports Ministry paid attention to all athletes’ performance this year and distributed awards to recognise excellence.
Kiren Rijiju’s appointment as the Sports Minister also proved to be a gamechanger as he has always been at the forefront asking citizens of the country to get themselves indulged in sports. He also came in with a tagline, saying ‘Kheloge-Khudoge, Banoge Lajawaab”.
The Fit India and Khelo India initiatives have also been lapped up by the entire country and it seems like everyone in the nation is trying to get themselves fitter by each passing day.
Para-athlete Manasi Joshi, in interaction with ANI, had also shared the sentiment and she went on to label Rijiju as a ‘dynamic’ minister.
“He is the most dynamic minister, he has helped the para-athletes since he has stepped into the office. He has done constant efforts to help us. I would like to thank the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports,” Joshi had told ANI.
Mixed Martial Arts which has not gained a lot of popularity among Indian audiences in the past, also managed to get wide viewership as Ritu Phogat made her foray into the sport.
She managed to have a successful debut in the sport as she triumphed over South Korea’s Nam Hee Kim.
Talking about India’s performance in sports in 2019, Rijiju told ANI: “India is setting high benchmarks in different sports, be it football, kabaddi, wrestling, boxing, athletics. We are doing well in both traditional and non-traditional sports. The culture has improved a lot in the country. We are breaking records in different sports, we are bringing more medals as compared to earlier.
Cricket, which has been viewed as the prime sport in the country also managed to reach new levels of excellence. Indian team, led by Virat Kohli is currently the number one ranked ICC Test team.
India managed to reach the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. The Men in Blue just fell short in the semi-finals against New Zealand.
2020 has major global events scheduled like the Tokyo Olympics, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Women’s T20 World Cup, just to name a few.
With this shift towards other sports, the future for the country looks bright and it seems like the nation will soon be a sporting powerhouse.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as a health advice. We would ask you to consult a qualified professional or medical expert to gain additional knowledge before you choose to consume any product or perform any exercise.