If 2017 was eventful for Indian sport in terms of results and achievements, 2018 was even more so.
However abysmal India’s record in the Olympics may be, the competitors have always performed admirably when it comes to the next rung on the international ladder – the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games.
The year 2018 gave Indian athletes the best opportunities to show their prowess, and they did not disappoint. In fact, in the major international events in 2018, many Indian stars delivered their firsts in the history of Indian sports.
Manika Batra’s Glory
At the 2018 CWG, Indian table tennis player won two golds, one silver and 1 bronze. Also, besides Manika’s medal in women’s singles, the Indian team also clinched medals in men’s team event and women’s team event) – the most for India in table tennis at any Games. Manika Batra became the first Indian to win the ‘Breakthrough Table Tennis Star’ award by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF).
A High for Men’s Team at the Asian Games
At the Asian Games, the Indian men’s table tennis star edged past Japan 3-1 in the quarterfinal to assure itself of a historic first medal – a bronze. Prior to this edition of Asiad, India had not won any medal in table tennis.
Hima Das scripted History
Hima Das has given the country some serious medal hopes this year with her ace performances. The 18-year old Hima scripted history as she became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at an IAAF event. She registered a win at the posting time of 51.46 seconds in 400 metres at the World U-20 Athletics Championships.
Later at the Asian Games, the Assamese sprinter won silver after setting a national record of 50.79 seconds in the 400m final.
How Swapna Barman made headlines
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 fought through a terrible toothache and non-customised shoes for six toes on each foot on her way to making history.
India won U-19 World Cup
The 2018 U-19 World Cup was held in New Zealand. India and Australia played in the finals at Mt. Maunganui on Feb 3, 2018. India defeated Australia by 8 wickets, with Manjot Kalra as the Man of the Match for his match-winning 101 run performance. India now holds the most wins record in the U-19 world cup.
Dhoni leads CSK’s comeback win in IPL
IPL 2018 saw Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals return to the competition after serving their two-year ban. MS Dhoni was back at the helm in the team that was dubbed ‘dad’s army’. However, they finished second in the table and then beat SRH by eight wickets in the final to lift their 3rd IPL trophy.
PV Sindhu breaking her silver jinx
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.
Mary Kom added another feather on her cap
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.
Virat Kohli & Co register first win in Down Under
India’s 31-run win over Australia in Adelaide on 11 December marked the first victory Down Under in 10 years. This was also their first win in a series opener in Australia, and only their sixth Test win in the country.
A great year for Vinesh Phogat
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.
Come, Support Us: Sunil Chhetri
Captain Sunil Chhetri made an impassioned appeal to fans to come out and support the Indian football team ahead of their Intercontinental match against Kenya, which also happened to be his 100th international game. The video of the football star went viral and led to other stars like Virat Kohli coming out in support. The stadium for the Kenya match was eventually sold out, and India went on to lift the Intercontinental Cup.
Bajrang Punia becomes World No.1
India’s star wrestler Bajrang Punia added another to his cap when he reached a career-high ranking of number one rank in the world in the 65kg category.
This has turned out to be a phenomenal year for the 24-year-old, who has now won five medals this season. Those include the prestigious CWG and Asian Games gold medals as well as the silver at the World Championship he won recently.
Shooting Sensation Manu Bhaker’s Powerpacked performance
Manu Bhaker showed exemplary temperament to put behind her disappointing Asian Games campaign to become win India’s first shooting gold, and second overall at any Youth Olympic Games.
A feat in Ultra-running
Ullas Narayan became India’s first-ever individual medalist in an international ultra-running event by clinching a bronze. Narayan finished at the third position, completing a distance of 250 km, just behind two Japanese runners – Yoshihiko Ishikawa (253 km) and Noboyuki Takahashi (252 km).
Indian Fencing sees a new High
India’s C A Bhavani Devi won a gold medal in the Sabre event at the Senior Commonwealth Fencing Championship 2018 held in Canberra, Australia. With this, Bhavani Devi became the first Indian to clinch gold at the Commonwealth Championship. In this rare distinction, Bhavani defeated England’s Emily Ruaux by 15-12 in the final.
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