Gone are the days when India only used to do well in team sports such as Cricket and Hockey. Over the last two decades, we have started doing well in individual sports such as Tennis, Badminton, Shooting, Wrestling, Weightlifting, Boxing etc on a consistent basis.
These athletes have not only made our nation proud at the international stage by picking up medals in world championships, but also have managed to make a place for themselves among top athletes in their respective disciplines.
In this feature, we are taking a look at such five Indian athletes who are currently excelling in individual sports.
5. Vijender Singh (Boxing)
Vijender Singh single-handedly made Boxing popular in our country with his Bronze Medal in Beijing Olympics 2008. It was a remarkable achievement from the Haryana-born Boxer and took many in our country by surprise. In 2015, Vijender created another landmark in Indian boxing as he quit amateur boxing to turn professional. He has proved his mettle on the professional stage too, and he is the current WBO Asia Pacific Super Middleweight Champion and WBO Oriental Super Middleweight Champion.
4. Neeraj Chopra (Javelin Throw)
When you talk about athletics, only a few Indians such as Milkha Singh, P.T Usha and Anju Bobby George have produced some memorable moments. As things stand, we are yet to win an Olympic medal in athletics. However, that might change in the coming, because we have a new superstar in making in Neeraj Chopra. Neeraj is the first Indian to win the gold medal at World Junior Championships with a record throw at U20 level. The 20-year-old is yet to win at a major senior event, but the future does look bright for him.
3. Saikhom Mirabi Chanu (Weight-lifting)
We used to be a pedigree in the sport of weight-lifting, especially in the women discipline. The likes of Karnam Malleswari and Kunjarani Devi achieved some remarkable victories in the last decade of the previous century. However, Malleswari’s bronze at Sydney 2000 was followed by a decline in the sport in our country. Mirabi Chanu is currently on the mission to change that. Chanu has already written her name in history books by winning the gold medal in the 48 kg women's category at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships. The last Indian woman to achieve this feat was Karnam Malleswari, back in 1995.
2. Kidambi Srikanth (Badminton)
2017 was a huge year for Kidambi Srikanth. The 25-year-old won four Super Series titles last year, and thus, became only the fourth player to achieve this feat. He also achieved his career’s best world-ranking of 2 in November. However, he failed to win a single game at Super Series Finals held at Dubai in December. Srikanth is currently ranked 3 in the world rankings, and he will be one of our biggest medal hopes at Tokyo 2020. He bowed out in the quarterfinals at Rio 2016, can he go one step further at the next games?
1. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu (Badminton)
She needs no introduction. Sindhu won every Indian’s heart with her performance at Rio 2016. Since her heroic silver-winning performance at the Olympics, she has maintained herself at the top level. She has proved with her performances that her silver medal was no fluke, and she is here to stay. The shuttler from Hyderabad is only 22-year-old and there is a lot more to come from her. Last year, she won two Super Series titles and lost in the final of World Championships. Currently, she is ranked fourth in the world rankings.