Virat Kohli grabbed headlines, new sports stars emerged: Indian sports in 2018

first_imgVirat Kohli continued to dominate the cricket chatter with his batting and brashness, the indomitable MC Mary Kom rolled back the years like very few can and, month after month, Indian sports also found new and younger heroes to raise a toast to as PTI writes in its year-ender.PV Sindhu’s perseverance on the badminton court, Neeraj Chopra’s obsessive pursuit of perfection every time he hurled the javelin, and the teenage shooting stars who refused to take their eyes off the target, made 2018 a year in which highs easily outnumbered the lows for Indian sports.Year in review for Indian sportsThere was a plethora of big-ticket sporting events this year and the country had lots to celebrate throughout.Whether it was the Commonwealth and the Asian Games or Youth Olympics, athletes pushed the boundaries and produced path-breaking performances.There were the usual administrative mess-ups occasionally and odd cases of dope shame as well, but they couldn’t make a dent to the overall sense of accomplishment.Captain Kohli for team IndiaOn the cricket field, the results weren’t encouraging in South Africa and England but Kohli the batsman again ruled the roost, making his craft look ridiculously easy even on the most challenging tracks.It was only fitting that he was bestowed the nation’s highest sporting honour — the Khel Ratna.For ‘Captain Kohli’, however, it was far more challenging as he grappled to get the combinations right.Biggest cricket scandal of 2018Team India did find a degree of redemption against Australia by retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to close the year on a high.advertisementOf course, it came against an Australian team weakened by the absence of banned batting mainstays Steve Smith and David Warner.The duo, along with Cameron Bancroft, combined for this year’s biggest cricket scandal — the ball-tampering saga that forced a review of Australia’s win at all cost’ culture: the same Australia which had the world mesmerised by its near-perfect hosting of the Commonwealth Games within weeks of the drama.Youngsters taking over weightlifting and shootingThe Commonwealth Games were memorable for India too, as the country logged it’s third-best ever medal haul, highlighted by a record-shattering weightlifting show. Spearheading it was the diminutive world champion Mirabai Chanu, who later shared the Khel Ratna with Kohli.Weightlifting also found another prospective star in Jeremy Lalrinnunga after the 16-year-old claimed an unprecedented gold at Youth Olympics.It was a comeback of sorts for shooting, after their flop-show at the 2016 Olympics.India’s gold medal-winners at the CWG shooting range included a 16-year-old Manu Bhaker and a 15-year-old Anish Bhanwala. The shooters hit the bull’s eye in the Asiad too and though Bhaker felt the pain of failure for the first time, new gold-winning stars emerged in 16-year-old Saurabh Choudhary and a 15-something Shardul Vihan.Bhaker and Chaudhary also won gold medals at Youth Olympics.Also read | Here’s how sports and education work well togetherBoxing: All about Mary KomIf shooting was about youngsters, boxing became all about an ageing but incomparable superstar in Mary Kom.The 36-year-old mother-of-three, who is also a Parliamentarian, picked up four gold medals — including a record sixth world title and the CWG top honours.”There won’t be another Mary Kom,” she declared and one look at her predominantly golden cabinet of medals would be enough to silence anyone who thinks otherwise.Badminton: Sindhu, NehwalSindhu lost five big finals, quietly took the criticism that labelled her a ‘choker’, but had the last laugh with a season-ending World Tour Finals title, beating world No 1 and familiar foe Tai Tzu Ying on her way to the summit clash.Not to be left behind was Saina Nehwal.The trailblazer started with a gold at CWG, picked up a bronze in Asian Games and began a new chapter in her personal life by marrying fellow shuttler P Kashyap.Wrestling: Phogat, Punia, SushilOn the wrestling mat, Vinesh Phogat became more than just a famous Phogat sister with gold medals at both the CWG and Asian Games and Bajrang Punia stepped out of the shadow of his mentor and London Olympics bronze-medallist Yogeshwar Dutt.Punia won gold at CWG and Asiad before a silver at World Championships positioned him as the biggest star.However, double Olympic-medallist Sushil Kumar’s stock fell due to a string of sub-par performances. Vinesh Phogat became the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold at Asian Games this year.Tennis: Manika BatraThe big takeaway in table tennis was the rise of Manika Batra.The Delhiite claimed four medals, including two gold, in the CWG before combining with veteran Sharath Kamal for a historic mixed doubles bronze at the Asiad, where India delivered its best-ever medal haul.Athletics: Neeraj, HimaAnother star to make the year his own was NeerajThe 21-year-old won both the CWG and Asian Games with records to boot and is giving Indian athletics audacious Olympic medal hopes for Tokyo 2020.A sprint sensation also emerged in 18-year-old Hima Das, India’s first ever woman track-and-field world champion at any level after her under-20 400m gold.Billiards: Pankaj AdvaniAway from the spotlight, it was business as usual for ace cueist Pankaj Advani as he added a 21st world title to his trophy cabinet.Also read | Hockey game in the Himalayas becomes world’s highest altitude ice hockey game to be playedadvertisementGolf: Shubhankar SharmaA star rose on the golf course as well in Shubhankar Sharma, who won the Maybank Malaysia OpenHe also bagged Asian Tour Order of Merit title and European Tour Rookie of the Year awardDisappointments in Indian sports this yearThere were disappointments too — the men’s hockey team being the most prominent with no medal at CWG and an underwhelming third-place finish at Asiad.CWG champion weightlifter Sanjita Chanu flunked a dope test.And there was no end to the administrative mess that the BCCI has become.However, none of the negatives was big enough to come in the way of a stronger India emerging on the competitive field.Stay updated with everything about sports, both Indian and international by tuning in to this segmentInterested in General Knowledge and Current Affairs? 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