The 2021 sporting extravaganza has inspired sportspersons from relatively unknown fields to punch above their weights.
After a successful stint at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, India has started diversifying across various sporting events with few sports of them we have already have excelled at. Fencing in particular has taken giant strides with many starting to follow the sport. Bhavani Devi was the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics. And since the sport has been on a positive curve. Surfing is not a popular sport in India and was only recently included in the Olympics. But it is having good participation across age categories in India.
There are three categories in fencing (Sabre, Epee, and Foil) and India has started to produce good results in the Sabre section with two Indian men and one woman in the top 100 of the FIE men’s rankings. In the men’s section Karan Singh (68), Kumaresan Gisho Nidhi (91), and in the women’s Bhavani Devi (42).
Abhay Shinde, the 20-year-old, entered the top 150 along with Vishal Thapar retaining his 134th spot. Abhay Shinde in particular had a good 2022 season participating in both the junior and senior sections and from 2023 is set to participate only in the senior tournaments. The 20-year-old, Karan Singh, and Bhavani Devi all come under the TOPS scheme.
Tanishka Khatri from the Foil section too had a good year and won against a top 20 fencer Andre Coquin at the Doha Grand Prix. The 18-year-old will be finishing the year in the 86th position in the senior section. Also, India is set to host the Asian cadet and junior championships in 2023 which will be the first major fencing event to be hosted in India.
Esow Alben became the first cyclist from India to participate in the UCI Champions League, in 2022. Only the top 18 cyclists (in endurance and sprint) across the world participate in the event and the Indian was one among them. Esow apart from just participating also reached the finals in the Keirin section.
The Indian cycling contingent did not put in good results at the Commonwealth Games but had a good year overall. Ronaldo Singh broke his own National Record at the Asian Championships held in New Delhi. Ronaldo Singh Laitonjam went on to break the National Record in the 200m flying time trail category at the UCI World Track Cycling Championships in France. The sad part was that the NR time wasn’t enough for him to qualify for the finals as he finished 31st with only the top 28 cyclist qualifying.
Capgemini one of the top IT companies in India has started to sponsor the Indian Rugby team. Indian team in the junior age categories won three silver medals at respective Asian Championships in 2022 (1. Asia Rugby U20 Sevens, Uzbekistan, 2. Asia Rugby U18 Sevens, Nepal, and 3. Asian Rugby Sevens, Indonesia.)
Surfing is not a popular sport in India but the country has excelled at in the sport over the past few months. For the first time, India is going to participate in the World Surfing Games to be held in El Salvador which is an Olympic Qualifying event. Four surfers Ajeesh Ali, Ramesh Bhudial, Sanjay, and Sivaraj Babu are going to represent India in the men’s section.
It maybe pleasing for many who follow Tennis to see it on the list of the sports India has excelled at since Tokyo Olympics. After two years Indian doubles has again risen with four players inside the top 100 of the ATP doubles rankings. Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan started the year on a great note winning back-to-back ATP 250 events (Adelaide and Maharashtra Open). The pairing of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni had a successful stint at the Challenger level and both reached their career-best rankings.
Five players are inside the top 100-150. A total of ten players are below the ATP 200 rankings. Rohan Bopanna (17), Ramkumar Ramanathan (71), Saketh Myneni (84), Yuki Bhambri (96), Jeevan Neduchezhiyan (113), Sriram Balaji (114), Divij Sharan (144), Arjun Khade (146), Purav Raja (147), and Anirudh Chandrasekhar (200).
Anirudh in particular has jumped 300 places above in the ATP doubles rankings majorly partnering Sundar Prasanth. In the women’s Karman Kaur Thandi won the opening round at the WTA Chennai Open and became the country’s top singles player. Both Karman Kaur and Ankita Raina are battling to be India’s top singles player.
India for the first time qualified for the World Cup in U-18 3*3 format. India finished second in the U-18 3*3 Asian Championships losing to Japan in a closely contested final. The U-17 5*5 team finished fifth in the Asian Championships which is the highest spot achieved to date. India went on to defeat heavyweights like Japan on the road to the quarterfinals. Kushal Singh and Lokhedra played a vital role in both the Asian competitions and are the youngsters to watch out for in the future.
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