Women are usually set as the examples of emotion and soft-natured but no one realises that women are strong and are achievers too. However, the scenario in India is rapidly changing in terms of how women are treated, compared to its early years. When it comes to sports, men still lead the tables but there are many women players who have stood up for their country/state/district/ even their college or school in various games and sports and have proven their valour and talent. Here are some of the Indian female athletes who have and will inspire all those who knew them
1. SAIKHOM MIRABAI CHANU – World Weightlifting Champion
“Forget the struggle, I’m the best in the world.”
Saikhom Mirabai Chanu is one of India’s pride as she’s one of the best weightlifters from India. She won gold at the sub-junior level and in junior-nationals at the age of 11. In the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she won a silver in the women’s 48kg weight and has also won other medals in the other Commonwealth games. She did break the record in the 2017 World Weightlifting Championship which was at Anaheim, CA, by winning the gold medal in the 48kg female category by lifting 194 Kgs in total and with no jerk. Mirabai became the famous weightlifter all around the world and she did come from a poor family who found to find their daily meal difficult. She even cycled around 60kms to reach her training centre, where she was put to vigorous training. Her story will always be an inspiration to anyone who feels hopeless and weak.
2. SAINA NEHWAL – Olympic Medallist
“My philosophy is to not be scared of anyone. If I play well, great; if I don’t, I learn from the match and move on.”
Saina Nehwal is known even to the kids in India, for both her personality and talent as a Badminton player. In fact, she was the first Indian women to win a bronze medal in the Olympics. She comes from a background where she was discriminated for being the girl child in Haryana, where no coaching facilities were available for small children. She even trained from the money that her dad borrowed from his friends, colleagues and relatives. However, despite her flashback being so pathetic, she worked very hard and with strong will power and determination, reached height through her sport. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2009 and the Padma Shri as well. She was also honoured by India’s government with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in the year 2009 and with a Padma Bhushan in the year 2016. Despite all her discrimination she stood upright and achieved what she wanted to by winning so many medals and awards in various international Badminton and matches and is still in the process, who recently got married to another Indian badminton player as well.
3. MITHALI RAJ – Indian Female Cricketer and Captain
“Everyday is a chance to get better.”
Mithali Raj is a South Indian, who’s from Hyderabad. She used to travel to Delhi by train, even as an Indian player. Just like other great sportswomen, she also faced a lot of struggles in her life and especially being in the field of Cricket, she found it difficult to stay in the phase of men’s team domination. Only in recent times did she come into the light, even though her team had won a lot of international matches just like the men’s team. However, she had her parents support until now. Mithali Raj is not only a cricketer but also a classical dancer, who, before choosing cricket as her career, wanted to become a Bharatnatyam dancer. She played her debut match when she was 16 years old and was the youngest female cricketer to score a 100 on her ODI and the second female cricketer to cross, 5,000 ODI runs in her debut. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in the year 2013 and the Padma Shri in 2015.
4. MANIKA BATRA – The latest Indian Table Tennis Sensation
“The Tricolour is in my heart and I put it on my nails also. I love to flaunt it.”
Manika Batra is India’s new found talent in the field of Table Tennis and has become a sensation with her profound and consistent performances in different international matches. She’s a college drop-out, to focus entirely on Table Tennis. Table Tennis is a sport that she started playing from the age of 4 and by the age of 8 had trained so well to win a match in the state level ‘ Under 8-tournament’. She even refused her proposal to become a model as she had higher goals in life, mainly in terms of Table Tennis. In the 2011 Child Open, she did win her first medal, a silver, in the ‘under 21-category’. During the 2015 Commonwealth Table Tennis Championship, she won 3 medals, finally falling into the public’s view. She’s also the first Indian Women to win a Gold medal in the Table Tennis Singles’ in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. However, her failure in the 2016 Rio Olympics brought her to more energy to practice and become perfect, which inspires almost everyone in the country and beyond.
5. RANI RAMPAL – Hockey Player
“From a cart- puller’s daughter to India’s star striker.”
Rani became the international level hockey player at the age of 14 and was also the youngest player to do her debut. When she was 15 years old, she was the youngest player to do her debut in the World Women’s Cup, which was during 2010. It was her ideas that led India to win against England for the bronze medal in the Hockey Junior World Cup. She was a girl who had no money to even buy a hockey stick but did grow to receive awards like the Arjuna and Bhim. She also secured a clerk job in the Indian Railways, with her excellent performance in the field.
6. HEENA SIDHU – Indian Shooter
“Have faith in yourself and go take that first step. If I could, can you.”
Heena Sidhu, who’s India’s renowned shooter did suffer from a nerve problem and the fact of her not being able to feel her fingers after shooting, all led her to undergo physiotherapy. She even struggled to pull the trigger because of all these and so to improve her condition and her trigger she set a target to finish her first shot series in just 11 minutes. After a recovery, she was placed in a critical situation again in the 2015 National Games, with a bulging disk in her neck which did cause tremendous pain while shooting and was relieved from it after an MRI which was post-Rio. In the 2018 Commonwealth Games, she won a gold medal in 25m Sports Pistol event and a silver medal in the 10m Air Pistol Event. She was awarded the Arjuna Award on 28th August 2014. The entire credit to her success goes to her determination and will-power to fight, to her husband and to her coach who did support her through thick and thin.
“No matter what your dreams are, however big or small, you will experience what I am feeling today – when you work for them and see them come true.”
Bhakti Sharma is a child prodigy who started swimming at the age of two and a half, while the other kids could barely walk. It was her mother who started coaching her in swimming, however, she had to leave swimming and get into Karate, as there were no good swimming pools in her area. But the tale of Karate did not last long and so because of her mother’s motivation, she jumped into swimming again to participate in the state and national level championships. She has also done a 24-hour swim in the pool during the month of December, just to test her capacity, which was accompanied by her mother. She did set a world record by swimming 1.4 miles in just 52 minutes and that too in the Antartic Ocean where the temperature was just one-degree. Bhakti receives the Tenzing Norgay in the year 2012, from the President of India, for all her achievements.
8. P.V.SINDHU –Indian Badminton Player
“The greatest assets is a strong mind. If I know someone is training harder than I am, I have no excuses.”
P.V.Sindhu is a talent who comes from a sports family, where both her parents are players in different fields of sports, therefore she too was into sports. She started playing at the age of 8 and did follow a hectic routine with her practices and matches. She did travel 47 kms to practice. Her biggest role-model in life is her coach Gopichand, who’s a retired Indian Badminton player. Her commitment to this sport is huge that she did not even attend her own sister’s wedding as she had to play a Grand Prix at Lucknow. She’s, in fact, the next Badminton sensation after Saina Nehwal, for she is the first Indian Women Badminton player to win a silver in the Olympics. She won the Arjuna award at the age of 18 and the Padma Shri at 19. In 2016, she was honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Currently, she’s one of the biggest inspiration to Indians and especially to those who are fond of Badminton.
9. VINESH PHOGAT – Women Wrestler
“When your goals are high, you push yourselves harder.”
Vinesh Phogat was brought up by her uncle, Mahavir Singh, after her father’s death, when she was just 9 years old. It was his uncle who taught her wrestling and was made to wrestle more with the boys just like her sisters. She won the bronze medal in the 2014 Asian Games and the silver medal in the 2015 Asian Championship. She even made through the quarterfinals in the 2016 Rio, Summer Olympics but had to withdraw due to a terrible knee injury. But she did come back with more zeal and strength and she won the gold medal in the 2018 Commonwealth Games under the women’s 50kg freestyle category. Her story is such an inspiring one that even a Hindi movie was made, named ‘DANGAL’.
10. SANIA MIRZA – Lawn Tennis Player
“As Tennis players, you are never satisfied. We are greedy as players because we always want better results.”
Sania Mirza is a contemporary sportswoman who gained popularity during the time when Saina Nehwal was also getting popular. Sania, being a Muslim was told that it was a shameful thing to wear short skirts in front of the world and even her marriage with a Pakistani cricketer, Shoaib, drew a lot of criticism from the public. She was called unpatriotic and was accused of disrespecting the Indian flag, however, none of these affected her career in Tennis as she had been training Tennis from the age of six form her father. She was awarded the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri as well, for her excellent victories in various international matches and against strong opponents. She has been an inspiration, both in her career and personal life as well, for, she has always fought and stood up for what she wants and wishes in her life, which most of us fail to do. She’s also the first South Asian woman to be appointed as a UN (United Nations) Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia.
All these women are only a part of a huge book of great women players in India, who despite being in the dark, and not known for most of the public, does keep inspiring the people around them with their hard-work and excessive courage to stand up for what they aim. Success stories like these makes one to be one like them too.
Hungreeminds takes immense gratitude and does salute all these courageous and inspiring women who have crossed their hurdles with determination and is now teaching others about how hard-work never fails. Here’s a big salute to all these women for their immense contribution to sports and to the nation. They have made us proud.
Now, if you are a sports women and if you feel that you are the next rising star, do reply to this blog with your views and your success stories.
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