From Mary Kom to Saina Nehwal: Five of the most iconic moments in Indian women’s sports
The 25th of January was a historic day in not just Indian sports history but the world over as the BCCI announced the winners of the five WPL teams after a detailed bidding process. Royal Challengers Bangalore can proudly say now that they were one of the five franchises who successfully won their bid and in the upcoming Women’s Premier League will be fielding a team of their own.
RCB has always encouraged women’s cricket and even came out with the movement called “It’s her game too”. Standing alongside all the women who wanted to embrace the sport, RCB cheers loudly for them and now will also have an opportunity to provide them a platform.
Here is a glance at five most iconic moments in the history of Indian women’s sport:
1. Anju Bobby George won the World Championship Medal in 2003
It was a historic leap in France in 2003 when Anju Bobby George transcended herself beyond mere mortal sight and arrived at the doorsteps of history. It was no mere whimper that heralded the feat but it was banging thud with which she landed, registering a gigantic leap of 6.7 m that won her the bronze medal. She became the first Indian to ever achieve a medal in the World Championships in Athletics that has now been rechristened as the World Athletics Championship. She remained the solitary medal-winner for India for 19 years until Neeraj Chopra, the Olympic Gold medallist for India bagged silver in 2022.
2. Saikhom Mirabai Chanu sparks a medal rush
One record after the other kept on toppling at the sheer resolve of Saikhom Mirabai Chanu who bagged a silver in the Tokyo Olympics in weightlifting in 2020. However, her performance in Tokyo was simply an extension of her domination across the face of the planet as she started her medal haul in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, bagging silver at a tender age of 19 years. From thereon she continued her medal-winning spree and extended her domination to World Championships in 2017, bagging gold followed by another in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, a bronze medal in the Asian Championships that was just the prelude to a historic moment in Tokyo where she clinched the silver medal in the Olympics and then capped it off with another Gold in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
3. Mary Kom boxes her way to glory
If you follow Bollywood, then you are well aware of the fact that this iconic name has reached the silver screens recently and actually won over countless hearts, narrating the story of one of India’s finest pugilists in the women’s circuit. MC Mary Kom was the first female Indian boxer to bag a gold in the Asian Games in 2014 at Incheon and was also the maiden Indian female boxer to clinch a gold at Commonwealth Games as the laurel arrived in the 2018 Games. She is also the only pugilist to become the Asian Amateur Boxing Champion for a staggering six times.
4. PT Usha’s Gold Rush at the 1986 Seoul Asiad
PT Usha has always been an eminent luminary whenever the nation has talked about women’s sports in India. Being cited as a benchmark of greatness, she holds the record of a staggering 11 medals at the Asian Games, 4 of which came in 1986 itself. Nicknamed the Payyoli Express, PT Usha dished out a string of impressive displays that catapulted her to the front page of almost all Indian sports magazines in the 1980s. In 1982, when the Asian Games returned to India after a momentous wait of three decades, PT Usha bagged her first medal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, registering a silver in the 100 m sprint where she clocked 11.95 seconds. Her second silver came in quick succession, this time in the 200m sprint where she chronicled a time span of 24.32 seconds to cover the stipulated distance. The 1985 Asian Athletics saw PT Usha bagging gold in all the events that she participated in, giving her a major uplift ahead of the 1986 Asian Games. Running three races in a time span of less than two hours, PT Usha returned with the gold in the 200m, 400m, 400m hurdles and 4x400m relay. Coming back from retirement for the 1990 Asian Games, Usha clinched three silver medals in the 400m, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay despite not being at the peak of her fitness.
5. Saina Nehwal becomes the first Indian woman to bag the ace in Women’s badminton rankings
While the Chinese shuttlers have dominated the world circuit for ages, it was the arrival of Saina Nehwal that changed the entire narrative of Indian women’s badminton. In 2015, when the world number one Carolina Marin slumped down to Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in the semi-finals of the open that year, it allowed Saina to make that herculean climb. For the first time since 2010, Saina became the first non-chinese player after Denmark’s Tine Baun, and for the first time in history an Indian woman, to top the world rankings for the sport.