Here are 18 sportswomen in India who amazed the nation with their achievements.
1. Hima Das (Athletics)
Also referred as the ‘Dhing Express’, Hima Das is an 18-year old sprint runner from Assam. 2018 was the year of Das, as she secured two major victories in her career – the first being a gold for the 400 metres at the World Under 20 Championships held at Finland, and the second being three medals at the Asian Games. Das did not just win gold for the 4×400 metres women’s relay and silver for the 4×400 metres mixed relay, she also secured a silver medal in the 400 metres race by clocking 50.79 seconds, which was also a new national record. The first Indian sprinter to have won an international gold medal, Das is commended as one of the most promising Indian faces for athletics in the years to come.
2. Swapna Barman (Athletics)
Hailing from the Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal, 22-year old Barman became the first ever Indian sportsperson to win a gold medal for Heptathlon in the Asiad. In the 2018 Asian Games hosted in Indonesia, she also secured a 50.63 m in Javelin Throw, which remains her personal best till date. She also crossed a total of 6,000 points in the Heptathlon event and became only the fifth woman ever to achieve this feat.
3. Mithali Raj (Cricket)
Not a very new name on the list, Mithali took up India’s favourite sport at the age of 10 and never looked back – she is the only player to have captained two World Cup finals, and in 2018 she became the first Indian player ever to have reached the 2000 run mark in T20Is. One of the architects to bring women’s cricket in forefront in the country, there was also a lot of controversy which was sparked recently regarding not including Raj in the semifinals of the World Cup, 2018 despite her stellar performance in the tournament – a match which India went on to lose.
4. Harmanpreet Kaur (Cricket)
A recent Arjuna awardee (2017), Kaur is an all-rounder and the present captain of the Indian national cricket team. Recently, in the 2018 World Cup, she also achieved the feat of being the first Indian woman to hit a ton in international T20 matches. Many experts believe Kaur to be the leading face of Indian cricket in the upcoming years.
5. Manika Batra (Table Tennis)
Winner of the Breakthrough Table Tennis Star award at the International Table Tennis Federation Awards held at South Korea, Batra had a spectacular year as she went on to claim four medals (two golds, one silver, and one bronze) at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and a bronze medal at the Asiad. Reshaping the commonly represented face of Indian sportswomen in the national media, 23-year old Batra was also featured in the cover of the Femina magazine (July, 2018).
6. Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling)
A well-known face (thanks to the film Dangal) and the third in line of the Phogat sisters, Vinesh won the gold in the 50 kg freestyle category in the Asian Games this year. An addition in her long list of international accolades and achievements, this contributed greatly to her receiving a Padma Shri nomination by the Sports Authority of India in 2018.
7. Dutee Chand (Athletics)
Dutee is a 22-year old sprinter from Odisha. She went on to take the nation by surprise as she clinched 2 silver medals back-to-back at the 2018 Asiad after being banned for the last Asian Games (2014). The events she exceeded in included the 100 metres and the 200 metres sprint. Her silver medal in the 100 metres race was also the first Indian medal in this category after a long gap of 32 years.
8. Manu Bhaker (Pistol Shooting)
At the age of just 16, Bhaker represented India at the International Shooting Sport Foundation World Cup in 2018 and went on to win not just one, but two gold medals (in 10 metres air pisot and 10 metres air pistol mixed team) – being the youngest woman to secure a gold in the history of the event. Bhaker also won gold in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, and a gold and a silver at the Youth Olympics held in Argentina.
9. Pincky Balhara and Malaprabha Jadhav (Kurash)
Kurash is a lesser known form of wrestling which originated in central Asia. Introduced for the first time in the Asian Games in 2018, this sport saw two Indian women clinch individual medals. Pincky Balhara and Malaparava Jadhav won the silver and the bronze medals respectively in the 52 kg category of this event.
10. Ankita Raina (Tennis)
25-year old Raina currently holds the 1st spot in Indian women’s tennis singles ranking. Raina has a spectacular year as she did not just perform her career best in the Grand Slams, but also won a bronze medal at the Asian Games hosted in Jakarta. Earlier this year, she had also become only the 4th Indian woman to enter the top 200 singles rankings internationally.
11. Mary Kom (Boxing)
Already a widely renowned face – both nationally and internationally – Mary Kom keeps redefining the idea of success by every passing year. In 2018, she won a gold at the Comonwealth Games as well as set yet another record by winning her sixth individual gold at the 10th World Boxing Championship held in New Delhi in 2018. Mary Kom holds a joint record of being the most successful boxer at world championships by winning a total of seven medals (six golds and one silver).
12. Aditi Ashok (Golf)
This 20-year old golfer made headlines after her performance in the Youth Olympics (2014) and the Olympic Games (2016) and her career graph has been uphill ever since. In 2018, she also delivered her career best performance in an LPGA Major Championship in the Evian Championship, held in France.
13. Rani Rampal (Hockey)
Rampal is the present captain of the Indian women’s hockey, and led the team to the finals of the Asian Games, 2018. She and her team won silver and together they surely paved way for more women joining and taking forward this sport, which greatly lacks popular participation till date even after ample fictional media representation.
14. Heena Sidhu (Pistol Shooting)
This 29-year old shooter has already established her reputation in the circuit over the last decade. In the recent Commonwealth Games held at Gold Coast, Sidhu did not just win two medals (a gold in the 25 metres pistol shooting and a silver in the 10 metres pistol shooting) but also went on to set a record in the history of the Commonwealth Games in the 25 metres event.
15. P.V. Sindhu (Badminton)
Another legend in the Indian as well as international sporting circuit right now, 2018 was in many ways the year of Pusarla Venkata Sindhu. She won silver in the women’s singles and a gold in the mixed teams event at the Commonwealth Games, and also achieved several other milestones in 2018. She won the season-ending BWF world tour finals and became the first ever Indian to do so. Sindhu ranked 7th in the Forbes list of Highest Paid Female Athletes of 2018 (between June, 2017 and June, 2018).
16. Dipa Karmakar (Gymnastics)
Brought to the forefront by the media after her captivating performance in the 2016 Olympics, this 25-year old gymnast hailing from Tripura became the first gymnast to win the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2016. Dipa also made the headlines in 2018 by winning the gold at the vault event in the FIG Artistics Gymnastics World Challenge Cup hosted at Turkey. However, later in the same year, she failed to qualify for the finals in the Asiad.
17. Deepika Kumari (Archery)
Currently ranked 5th in the world (and formerly ranked 1), Deepika is a 24-year old archer from Jharkhand. In 2018, she won a gold medal at the recurve event at the World Cup (Stage III) and simultaneously qualified for the circuit finals which were held later in the year. In the World Cup Finals held in Turkey, she won bronze.
This is by no means an exhaustive or representative list. Suggestions to add to the list are welcome in the comments section.