With multiple big sporting events in 2018 for India including Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, the country’s women athletes stole the limelight as they outshone men in several sports. Be it the hockey or kabaddi team, the women were a step ahead of their male counterparts. Several women athletes representing India at the International stage made history and broke records in 2018. Let us look at some of the biggest women achievers in sports for India:
Hima Das has given the country some serious Olympic-medal hopes with her performances this year. The 18-year old scripted history as she became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at an IAAF event by posting time of 51.46 seconds in 400 metres at the World Under-20 Athletics Championships.
Later at the Asian Games, the Assamese sprinter won silver after setting national record of 50.79 seconds in 400m final. She also won gold at women’s 4×400 metres relay and a silver at Jakarta–Palembang 2018. She ended the season at world number 23 and second in Asia.
Swapna Barman made headlines with her historic gold at the Asian Games and the story of struggles behind it. Swapna defied all odds as she became the first-ever Indian to win a gold medal in women’s heptathlon event at the Asian Games. Not only did she finish the seven events with a personal best score but Swapna, who hails from Jalpaiguri, fought through a terrible toothache and non-customised shoes for six toes on each foot on her way to making history.
Manika Batra took the country by storm in a sport that hasn’t seen many female Indian players at the forefront. Batra finished Commonwealth Games with a total of four medals including two gold – one in women’s singles and one in women’s team, besides a silver in women’s doubles and a bronze in mixed doubles categories respectively. During the games, Manika also shocked World number four and triple Olympic medallist Feng Tianwei of Singapore twice in the tournament.
Even though five silvers would generally count as an achievement but PV Sindhu finally overcame her finals jinx as she defeated the defending champion and World No. 5 Nozomi Okuhara to win her maiden BWF World Tour Finals title in Guangzhou, China. Earlier in the year, she scripted history as she became the first-ever Indian to win a silver medal in any women’s singles badminton event at the Asian Games 2018.
Veteran badminton star Saina Nehwal also had a strong year after recovering from career-threatening knee injury. Saina’s impressive year began with her beating co-star PV Sindhu in the final of Commonwealth Games to become the first-ever Indian to have two gold medals in badminton singles category at the Commonwealth Games. The 28-year old clinched gold at the Syed Modi Open tournament, silver at Indonesia Masters, Denmark Open and bronze at Asian Games as well as Asian Championship.
The legend of Mary Kom continues to get better as she added another feat to her illustrious career by winning a record-equalling sixth gold at World Boxing Championship in November. ‘Magnificent Mary’ won via unanimous decision in 48kg light flyweight class to equal the record of Cuban legend Felix Savon as the joint most successful boxer (Men or Women) in the history of World Championships.
Earlier this year, Mary Kom added to her medal cabinet a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, where she was making her debut, beating Northern Ireland’s Kristina O’Hara in the final by a unanimous decision.
Vinesh Phogat had a near-perfect year as she won back-to-back golds at the two crucial events of the year – Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. Vinesh, who is one of India’s biggest hopes for an Olympic medal, became the first Indian woman wrestler to win a gold medal at the Asian Games. She also won back-to-back golds at two CWGs – 2014 in Glasgow and 2018 in Gold Coast.