Revolution and Evolution of Indian Women Athletes

Revolution and Evolution of Indian Women Athletes

By: Sruthi, Writer | Friday, 29 October 2021

Gold is only a metaphor that describes how Indian women have handily surpassed their male counterparts in both the previous Olympics and the current Summer Games. 

There has been a quiet revolution in Indian sport since the turn of the century, with women expressing their sports credentials. And it all began around the beginning of the millennium, when an unusual event occurred: an Indian woman won an elusive Olympic medal for the first time.


Rise of Indian Women Athletes

At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a 25-year-old Karnam Malleswari created history as people stayed riveted to their television sets in a pre-social-media period with the internet still in its infancy. While competing in the women's 54 kg event, the weightlifter from Voosavanipeta, a village in Andra Pradesh, earned bronze with an effort of 110 kg in snatch and 130 kg in clean and jerk.

Since then, India has experienced an increase in the number of female athletes in a variety of sports. They are not only collecting awards on various stages, but they are also demolishing societal stereotypes along a mostly unknown road.

Six of the 14 individual medals have been won by female athletes in the five summer Olympics of the 21st century, including the current Tokyo Games. Female athletes are always outnumbered by male athletes.

Apart from Malleswari in Sydney in 2000, Sindhu and Sakshi in Rio in 2016, and Chanu and Lovlina in Tokyo, Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal in London in 2012, have all won medals.

The presence of numerous sports is not the only encouraging sign. The diversity of this year's female contingent adds to its allure. Mothers, teens, married, unmarried, LGBTQ+, and athletes from bustling metropolis to peaceful enclaves are all united in their desire to win medals. While an Olympic cut would undoubtedly bring attention to a sport that was previously unknown to the general public, performances by unknown names in lesser-known sports have assured that the seed has been laid for it to develop in popularity over time.

In these Games, pioneer such as Bhavani Devi in fencing and Nethra Kumanan in sailing have succeeded to smash the glass barrier, allowing the remainder to explore an uncharted path.

Returning to the beginning, the first decade of the twenty-first century will be remembered as the pivotal time in which a slew of daring female athletes solidified a resolute approach toward tearing down obstacles. To change narratives, despite the obstacles that had previously prevented so many others from achieving greater success.


Indian Women Athletes earns Top Athletic Honour 2021

The Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award will be given to Neeraj Chopra, Lovlina Borgohain, Ravi Dahiya, Avani Lekhara, Mithali Raj, PR Sreejesh, Sunil Chhetri, SumitAntil, Krishna Nagar, Manish Narwal, and Pramod Bhagat.

Aside from that, the Arjuna Award will be given to 35 players. Among them are Bhavina Patel, Yogesh Kathuniya, Nishad Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Suhas Yathiraj, Singhraj Adhana, Harvinder Singh, and Sharad Kumar.

Radhakrishna Nair, TP Ouseph, and Sandeep Sangwan are among those who have received the Dronacharya Award.

The incredible success of Indian women athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics resulted in top athlete honours.

Apart from Chopra, who became just the second Indian to win an individual Olympic gold, a silver-medal-winning wrestler and a bronze-medal-winning woman boxer were nominated for the country's highest sports honour, the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna.

Mithali Raj, a seasoned hockey goalie, and women's cricket team Test and ODI captain, was chosen alongside iconic, who is expected to become the country's first footballer to earn the honour.

Lovlina, a boxer, dedicated her nomination for the country's top athletic honour to her parents.

“It's one of the proudest days for me as an athlete to have been recommended for the KhelRatna award. I would like to thank Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi sir, Sports Minister Anurag Thakur sir, SAI, BFI, coaches and everyone who is part of my journey.I would like to dedicate this award to my parents. I will continue to work hard and my aim is to bring more laurels for my nation,” she said. 

India sent its largest women's delegation to the Tokyo Olympics, with up to 100 female athletes competing, and the country had its best performance yet, garnering medals for the country.

Shuttler P V Sindhu, and weightlifting Mirabai Chanu have previously earned the Khel Ratna award.

Vandana Katariya and Monika of the women's hockey team, who were instrumental in the team's brilliant performance at the Tokyo Olympics, Bhavani Devi, the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics, boxer Simranjit Kaur and women's tennis player Ankita Raina are among the others.

The Khel Ratna award comes with a cash prize of Rs 25 lakh and a citation, while the Arjuna award recipients will receive a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh and a citation. Prior to 2020, the Khel Ratna award was for Rs 7.5 lakh, while the Arjuna award was worth Rs 5 lakh.