Indian women who have won World Championships in individual sports

Gaurav SinghGaurav Singh

May 22 2022
World Championship

These athletes have performed well at the biggest of stages.

Indian boxer Nikhat Zareen won the coveted gold medal in the flyweight (52 kg) division in the Women’s World Boxing Championship in Istanbul, Turkey. She defeated Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas via a unanimous verdict with the judges scoring the fight 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in the Indian’s favour. Zareen became the fifth Indian boxer to be crowned world champion.

Indian women have been bringing pride to the nation for many years now by winning various world championships. From 1994 weightlifting world champion Karnam Malleswari to PV Sindhu, in this article, we will take a look at all the Indian women who became the world champions in individual sports.

Karnam Malleswari (Weightlifting)

Karnam Malleswari is largely famous for becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Olympics. That was at the 2000 Sydney Olympics when she won the bronze medal. That bronze was India’s only medal at the Sydney Games.

However, before entering the Olympics that year, she was already a two-time World Champion. Back in 1994, at the World Championships in Istanbul, she was awarded the gold medal in the 54 kg category. A year after that, in China, she won the title again with a record lift of 113 kg at the World Championships.

Dipa Karmakar (Artistic Gymnastics) 

Dipa’s name gained traction when she became the first Indian female gymnast to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games ever. She was awarded the bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Following that, she also became the first Indian female gymnast to ever compete in the Olympics when she represented the country at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio where she managed to finish fourth overall.

Dipa’s rise did not end there, in 2018 she took part in the vault event at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Cup in Mersin, Turkey and won the gold medal. She became the first Indian gymnast to win a gold at a global event.

Mirabai Chanu (Weightlifting)

Mirabai Chanu was superb last year as she opened India’s medal tally at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She won the silver medal in the 49 kg category at the Games. Before that Chanu won gold at the Commonwealth Championships three times and the Commonwealth Games once.

But back in 2017, at the World Weightlifting Championship held in Anaheim, California, Mirabai was in stunning form as she grabbed the gold. She lifted a total of 194 kg, 85 kg in snatch and 109 kg in clean and jerk to finish first and set a competition record.

Mary Kom (Boxing)

There is little doubt over Mary Kom’s status as a legend in Indian sport. She has won 19 medals while representing the country in many different events across the world. She has a bronze in the Olympics, a gold and a bronze at the Asian Games, five gold and two silver medals at the Asian Championships, and a gold at the Commonwealth Games but the most stunning is her medal haul at the World Championships.

Mary Kom has won a stunning six World Championship titles throughout her career. She won gold in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018 IBA World Boxing Championships.

Sarita Devi (Boxing)

Before Zareen, the only Indian female boxer to win gold in the 52kg category in the Women’s Boxing Championship was Sarita Devi. The Manipur-born boxer is regarded as one of the best women boxers to come out of India. She has won over 10 medals in her career.

But arguably the sweetest one was the gold medal in the 2006 Women’s World Boxing Championship in New Delhi. Before that, she had won the bronze medal in the 2005 edition but was focused on doing better on home turf. Sarita put up a brilliant effort in the final, defeating Ukraine’s Viktoria Rudenko 18-12 to bag the gold medal.

Jenny R.L (Boxing)

Jenny R.L represented India in the 63kg Light Welterweight category in the 2006 Women’s World Boxing Championship. It took place in New Delhi. She thrived under the support of the home crowd to pull off a remarkable story. Prior to the World Championships, Jenny had also won gold in the 2003 and 2005 Asian Boxing Championships and headed into the 2006 edition full of confidence.

She defeated Canadian boxer Katie Dunn in the semi-finals to set up a bout against Swedish boxer Kiara Svensson in the final. Against all odds, Jenny ousted her opponent by the margin of 18-12 to win the final and bag the gold medal title – which would be one of Team India’s four golds in the championship.

Lekha K.C (Boxing)

The second Indian female boxer to win gold in the 2006 Women’s World Boxing Championship was Lekha KC in the 75kg middleweight category. She had also won Gold in the 2005 Asian Boxing Championship in the 80kg division but did one better in New Delhi.

Lekha dominated Chinese boxer Jinzi Li in the final to win the gold medal in the World Boxing Championship, defeating her by he margin of 18-12. It also marks the only time Lekha has won a gold medal in a Women’s World Boxing Championship in her career.

PV Sindhu – Badminton

Arguably one of the greatest Indian shuttlers ever, PV Sindhu has done the nation proud on many occasions. She has won gold at the Commonwealth Games, a silver and a bronze at the Olympic Games but her most sensational feat came when she won the gold at the 2019 Basel BWF World Championships.

Sindhu entered the tournament seeded fifth but none of that mattered to her. She made a stunning comeback against world number 2 Tai Tzu-ying in the quarterfinal after she went down a game and won 12-21, 23-21, 21-19. She then went on to defeat Nozomi Okuhara in the final in a wonderful match that ended 21-7, 21-14.

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