2018 saw uprising of many Indian stars…

2018 has been an important year for Indian sports.This is because three major sporting events took place in the year which saw many Indian stars shining on international stage.

Highs
Commonwealth Games took place in Gold Coast,Australia.India finished with 66 medals comprising 26 golds,22 silver and 16 bronze.India finished third overall behind Australia and England in medals tally.This was our best performance at quadrennial event since 2010 Delhi CWG.As expected,we won medals mainly in shooting,weightlifting,boxing,badminton and wrestling.Neeraj Chopra and Manika Batra were the highlight for India.Neeraj won gold in javelin throw while Manika Batra won historic 4 medals including 2 golds.Saina Nehwal beat P V Sindhu in singles final of badminton.Seasoned M C Mary Kom and Sushil Kumar won gold medals in boxing and wrestling respectively.
Asian Games followed four months later.In Jakarta,India produced its best ever performance in Asiad with record breaking 69 medals won.It included 15 golds,24 silver,30 bronze.Athletics gave us more gold medals with Neeraj Chopra in javelin,Tejinderpal in shot put,Swapna Barman in heptathlon.They were major breakthrough for India.In sprints,Manjit Singh and Jinson Johnson won yellow metals in 800 and 1500m respectively.They were consolidated by 4*400 gold medal winning relay team led by household name, Hima Das.In absence of Mary Kom,Amit Panghal won the only gold for India in boxing.Bajrang Punia followed his CWG heroics at Gold Coast by winning in 65kg Freestyle wrestling in Indonesia.
There were some individual brilliance too.Hima Das became the first ever Indian to win a track gold when she won IAAF under20 Athletics Championships in Finland.M C Mary Kom won historic and record breaking sixth world title in front of home fans in New Delhi.Pankaj Advani won extended his world titles tally to 21 by winning IBSF World Billiards Championships for a record fourth time in China.Virat Kohli equalled Saurav Ganguly’s record of most successful overseas test captain with 11 wins under his belt.Bajrang Punia won historic silver at World Wrestling Championships in Budapest.
In team performance,Indian cricket team won historic tests in Adelaide and Perth taking 2-1 lead against Australia down under.Indian football team also played friendlies against the likes of Oman and China.They drew away with higher ranked China which brought much needed confidence boost for players ahead of future crucial engagements.
Lows
The biggest failure of 2018 has to be by the men’s hockey team.After scoring over 52 goals in group stage in Asiad, when it mattered the team failed in the semifinals against Malaysia in shootout.More disappointment came when they lost 1-2 to Netherlands in front of home fans in World Cup at Bhubaneshwar.Sakshi Malik and Sushil Kumar too have miserable year considering their potential.
Controversies
Indian women cricket team coach Ramesh Powar was accused of discrimination by ODI skipper Mithali Raj after World T20.Mithali was surprisingly dropped from the team against Australia in semifinal.Powar in turn later termed Mithali as selfish.Bajrang Punia threatened to initiate legal action against Sports Ministry for not considering him for Khel Ratna Award.However under suggestion of his mentor,Yogeshwar Dutt,Bajrang ignored the case.
2018 saw many young stalwarts like Saurabh Chaudhary,Manu Bhaker,Hima Das.Let us hope India produce many more champions in 2019.
Shailesh Padhye