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Monday, February 26, 2024

Virat Kohli To Neeraj Chopra: Indian Athletes Who Brought Us Joy In 2023

Year Ender 2023: 2023 has been a mixed bag for Indian sports as records were broken and tears were shed as fans went through a plethora of emotions. Be it cricket or javelin throw, Indian athletes left an indelible mark across different sports and etched their names in history. No doubt the highlight of the year was India’s record haul of 107 medals in the Asian Games that saw the country secure the fourth rank at the mutinational event in Hangzhou.

In cricket, one of the most loved sports across the length and breadth of the country, while India achieved numero uno status in all three formats of the game (T20, Test and ODIs), it lost the ICC Cricket World Cup as well as the World Test Championship to Australia. Despite the loss at the World Cup final, Indian players dominated the tournament and comprehensively won every match on the road to the final.

Here is a look at the Indian athletes who managed to make it big in their respective sports in 2023:

Virat Kohli

Call him the chase master or the greatest of all time (GOAT), Virat Kohli always lives up to all the tags that he has been given so far. Kohli, who completed 15 years in international cricket this year, has been the backbone of the Indian batting order given his ability and impact as a player. The story has been nothing different this year.

Kohli played crucial knocks throughout the ICC World Cup to ensure that India was undefeated till it ran into Australia in the finals. Kohli dominated the tournament, scoring a staggering 765 runs in 11 innings, which is the highest by any batter in a single ODI World Cup edition, a record previously held by Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar.

In this edition of the World Cup, the swashbuckling batter broke not one but two records that were previously held by Tendulkar. Kohli also became the first batter to score 50 tons in ODI cricket, surpassing the Master Blaster, who scored 49.

Mohammed Shami

The Indian pacer had a terrific year and reserved his best performance for the ICC Cricket World Cup. Shami breathed fire with the ball at the ICC Cricket World Cup, giving India crucial breakthroughs with his impeccable line and length. After being out of the side for the first four matches, Shami made a comeback following an injury to Hardik Pandya and rewrote the history books.

He picked up 7 wickets and gave away just 57 runs in the semi-final against New Zealand in Mumbai, which is the best-ever figures by an Indian bowler in ODIs. In the 7 matches he played, including the final, the Indian pacer took 24 wickets, the most in this edition of the World Cup.

Shami’s tally of 24 wickets is the most by an Indian in a single edition of the World Cup. He surpassed Zaheer Khan’s tally of 21 in the 2011 World Cup.

Shami has four five-wicket hauls in cricket World Cup history, the most by any bowler. He is also the quickest in the history of the World Cup to complete a 50-wicket haul and the first-ever Indian to do so. In 18 matches in the World Cup, Shami has picked up 55 scalps.

Rohit Sharma

India’s star opener Rohit Sharma had a great year as a skipper despite losing two high-profile ICC tournaments — World Cup and World Test Championship. Under his leadership, India defeated Australia and won the Border Gavaskar Trophy this year on home soil. He also led India to its eighth Asia Cup win as India defeated Sri Lanka by 10 wickets in the final.

The Men in Blue had a dream run in the ICC ODI World Cup, winning 10 matches in a row with absolute dominance throughout. On the batting front, Sharma gave India strong starts and batted selflessly in the ICC World Cup. The ‘Hitman’, as Sharma is fondly called, scored 597 runs in the big-ticket tournament in 11 matches and was the second-highest run-getter.

Neeraj Chopra

‘Golden Boy’ Neeraj Chopra, who brought India’s first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo Olympics 2020, continued his dream run this year. Chopra became the first Indian to win a gold at the World Athletics Championship. Alongside, he also won gold in the Asian Games and finished second in the finals of the Diamond League.

Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty 

In 2023, great news also came India’s way from the badminton court. The pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty brought glory to the nation as they became the first Indian pair to be the World No. 1 men’s doubles pair in badminton. The duo defeated the South Korean pair of Choi Solgyu and Kim Wonho to achieve a mind-boggling feat and bring India its maiden badminton gold at the Asian Games.

Sheetal Devi 

Indian athletes also left a mark in archery. Sheetal Devi had a great year as she won medals in all the categories of all the tournaments she participated in 2023.

From the the Para-Archery European Cup in May to the Khelo India Para Games, the 16-year-old won multiple medals in compound individual, mixed team, and team events.

This included two gold medals each at the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou and Bangkok Asian Para Archery Championships. She bagged a silver medal at the World Para Archery Championships, where she became the world’s first woman armless archer to bag a medal.

Sheetal’s performance in the final of the individual event at the Para Asian Games was one of the moments of the year.

Parul Choudhary

Steeplechase specialist Parul Choudhary won two medals at the Asian Games. The 28-year-old from Uttar Pradesh stunned the world by winning a gold and silver medal in the Asian Games. She became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in the 5000-metre race. Choudhary secured the first position after a close race in which she accelerated in the final few seconds to ensure the top position. She rewrote history with a second medal in the 3000-metre steeplechase.

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