2017 has been a great year for Indians in sports but it has been easily one of the best for Indian women in all sports that include the likes of cricket, badminton, hockey and golf among others. Names like PV Sindhu, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami and comeback queen Mary Kom have now become household names owing to their consistent performances through the year. Let us take a look at the Indian women athletes who stole the show in 2017.
Indian Cricket Team
India is a cricket-crazy nation and while the men’s team has been popular among the crowds, the women’s team made sure they are not left far behind. The team came to the fore with a brilliant performance, making it all the way to the finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup. Their consistent performance throughout the tournament ensured that unheard names became household names.
Despite the team narrowly missed out on an opportunity to lift the World Cup, the ‘Women in Blue’ were lauded as heros and their success was rejoiced by millions of people across the country.
Opener Punam Raut, bowlers Deepti Sharma and Jhulan Goswami created a niche for themselves. Indian captain Mithali Raj led from the front became the leading run-scorer in women’s ODI cricket and also the first to reach 6,000 runs in the cricket format.
Saina Nehwal has been the lone face of Indian women shuttlers for a long time now, PV Sindhu rose to prominence with her silver medal finish at Rio Olympics 2016 but 2017 substantiated that medal. The year 2017 ensured that she is definitely a force to reckon at the international level, giving India more than a reason to boast about in the sports arena.
The Hyderabad-based shuttler avenged her Rio Olympics loss to Carolina Marin by defeating at the India Open Superseries final in straight games. In August, she settled for silver at World Badminton Championships 2017 after she was defeated by Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in a very keenly contested match that could have gone either way.
Being at peak form, she again met Okuhara in the Victor Korea Open Superseries final and rightly defeated her to clinch the title. In December, at the Dubai World Superseries Finals she settled for a silver after being defeated by Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.
Indian Hockey Team
Amidst all the talks about the unimportance to hockey in India, the men’s team has proved their worth but it’s the women’s team that leaves no doubt in being on par with their male counterparts. In early November 2017, the Indian team beat China 5-4 in penalties to clinch the Asia Cup 2017, their first in 13 years. The win also granted them an automatic berth into the Women’s Hockey World Cup in 2018.
The result for the team has been a major boost after they finished a lowly eight in a competition between ten teams at the Hockey World League Semi-finals in July earlier this year. The women's hockey team will definitely look to continue their good form in the World Cup in 2018 after a great comeback in 2017.
Before Aditi Ashok came to the fore, not many knew about an Indian female golfer. The 19-year-old pro-golfer from Bangalore won the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi in November, carrying her good form from 2016. Aditi also went on to be tied at 5th position and 13th position at the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic and Hero Indian Women's Open respectively.
The golfer is only in her second year as a pro and after winning two titles in 2016 including participating in the 2016 Summer Olympics, she is now on course to represent India and compete with the top ranks in the sport.
After winning her first gold at the Asian Games in 2014, Mary Kom had a lean patch. However, 2017 proved to be a great one for the boxer as she rose back to prominence by claiming her fifth gold medal at the Asian Confederation Women Boxing and Championship in Vietnam.
The boxer won the competition in the 48 kilogram category. The win only goes on to prove that Mary Kom is in no mood to hand her gloves anytime sooner.