Experts Column

Sports, especially women's sports, has gradually been gaining popularity across the globe. The credit for this evolution goes to the various outstanding female athletes who are not only venerated but are motivating the next generation to pursue their aspirations with gusto. Things aren't simple for women in athletics, and they must overcome obstacles in order to compete with their male counterparts. Despite the fact that male athletes are lauded and payed more than female athletes, female athletes overcome obstacles with their enthusiasm and hard effort.

Female athletes have risen to prominence in society by taking on a variety of roles. Their dedication to self-promotion has resulted in recognition, and they are now finally recognised and respected. People's attitudes pertaining to women have shifted, and they now regard them as magnificent beings who encourage the rest of the world to strive for perfection. Perhaps women's incredible achievements are the result of their devotion and determination.

Women are the biggest game changers, and they endure in the face of hardship while never losing sight of their passion. The year 2021 was especially a game changer for Indian sportswomen and several of them brought honour to the country through their achievements in a range of sports. These women have climbed beyond the male-dominated world of sports to carve a niche for themselves in the collective psyche of the Indian audience.

Here are some of the most prolific Indian sportswomen who made big news in 2021.

 

Mithali Raj

Mithali Raj, India's women's national cricket team captain, has become the first Indian batter and the world's second female player to score 10,000 runs in women's international cricket.

Mithali Raj, the first woman to complete a 20-year international career, is a right-handed opening batsman and occasional right-arm leg-break bowler.

Raj is the all-time leading run-scorer in women's international cricket, and she was the first woman to amass 6,000 runs in one-day internationals. She is also the first player in ODI history to have seven 50-run innings in a row. Raj also holds the WODI record for the most half-centuries. She was the first female cricketer to amass 2000 T20I runs and the first woman to score 2002 WT20I runs.

She has garnered several international honours, including the the Arjuna Award in 2003, the Padma Shri in 2015, and Wisden Leading Woman Cricketer in the World Award in 2017.

 

P V Sindhu

The defending world champion, P V Sindhu, placed third in badminton at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, five years after winning silver in Rio.

The 26-year-old from Hyderabad defeated China's He Bing Jiao 21-13 21-15 in the third-place playoff. With her achievement, she became the second Indian athlete to win two Olympic gold medals and the first Indian woman to win a world badminton title.

With the exception of 2015, she has medaled in every global event in which she has competed. She previously competed in the 2016 Olympics, earning a silver medal. She has received several awards. Following the Padma Shri award in 2015, the Arjuna Medal in 2013, and the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award in 2016, the Indian government awarded the Padma Bhushan award on her in 2020.

 

Purnima Pandey

Purnima Pandey, an 18-year-old Indian weightlifter, smashed eight national records on her route to gold in the Commonwealth Weightlifting Championships in the women's +87kg division. Purnima won the tournament and qualified for the Olympics by lifting 229kg (102kg+127kg).

She set a total of eight national records, including two in snatch and three in clean and jerk. She became the fourth Indian weightlifter to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in 2022 as a result of this event.

 

Lovlina Borgohain

Lovlina Borgohain becomes the third Indian boxer to win a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She is the second Indian female boxer to win an Olympic medal, following M.C Mary Kom.

Her first major victory came when she was selected to represent India in the welterweight class at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She then went on to win bronze at the 2017 Asian Boxing Championships in Vietnam. Other significant achievements include winning the President's Cup in Astana in 2017, silver at the Ulaanbaatar Cup in Mongolia in 2018, and bronze in the 13th International Silesian Championship in Poland in 2018. In 2020, the Indian government awarded her the Arjuna Award for her remarkable achievements in boxing.

 

Avani Lekhara 

Avani Lekhara, a 19-year-old law student from northern Rajasthan, made Paralympic history in Tokyo in 2020. She is the first woman from India to win several Paralympic gold medals.

Avani took first place in the Women's 50m air rifle 3 positions SH1 event and third place in the 10m air rifle SH1 event.

Furthermore, this was her first appearance at a Paralympic Games. Avani Lekhara, who is presently placed fifth in the women's 10m air rifle rankings, set a new Paralympic record and tied the world record in the final with a score of 149.6.

Avani Lekhara is the fourth Indian woman and the first in Paralympic history to win a gold medal. In addition, she is the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold medal in shooting. She was paralysed below the waist in 2012 after being involved in a fatal car accident when she was 11 years old. Her wounds, however, did not deter her determination to fight. Her father was the one who encouraged her to participate in sports. Despite being an accomplished archer, shooting has proven to be her main interest.

Dreams may be realised with devotion and hard effort. Women have made important contributions to the sports sector, and their hard work has paid off. Life is not easy for those who are looking for a route out.