As 2019 is coming to an end in ways that cease to make us proud as Indians, it is in many ways reassuring to look back at the year, and remember instances and people who have done us proud as Indians. 2019 has been a pretty good year for Indian sportspeople. Most importantly, this year has seen some great women prove their mettle in the sport of their choice. Mentioned below, are 13 sportswomen in India who have made a mark for themselves in 2019.
1. Dutee Chand
Dutee Chand is a 23-years old professional sprinter from Odisha. She was chosen as the ‘Sportswomen of the Year 2019’ by Vogue India, not without reason. She was the first Indian to win a gold medal in women’s 100-metre sprint at the 30th Summer University Games in Naples, Italy. She then went on to break her own national record, clocking 11.22 seconds, in the women’s 100m semi-finals at the 59th National Open Athletics Championships in Ranchi. Coming out as India’s first openly queer athlete, Dutee Chand has been called a ‘beacon of hope’ for the LGBTQIA+ community in India by the LGBT rights activist, Harish Iyer.
2. Hima Das
Nicknamed the ‘Dhing Express’, Hima Das is an Indian sprinter from Assam. 2019 was the year for Das, as she won five gold medals in 20 days. Her first gold was in 200m race at the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland on July 2, which was followed by another gold in 200m race at the Kutno Athletics Meet, again in Poland, on July 7. She bagged her third and fourth gold in 200m in Czech Republic on July 13 and July 17 respectively. Finally, her fifth gold was in 400m race in Nové Město, Czech Republic on July 20.
3. Pusarla Venkata Sindhu
A familiar name on the list, and currently ranked sixth by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), P.V. Sindhu won gold at the BWF World Championship, 2019, beating Nozomi Okuhara from Japan in the final held at Basel in Switzerland. She became the first Indian to win gold in the World Championship.
4. Manasi Joshi
Manasi Joshi is a para-badminton athlete who is currently ranked second in the world in the SL3 (standling/lower limb impairment/minor) singles by the Badminton World Federation. In August 2019, she won a Gold medal at the Para-badminton World Championship 2019 held in Basel, Switzerland. Joshi has also been vocal about the rights and the concerns of people with disabilities. She has spoken in favour of waiving the GST levied on prostheses, and has demanded insurance for the equipment of para athletes.
5. P.U. Chitra
P.U. Chitra is a middle-distance runner from Kerala, known for 1500m races. 2019 saw the Asian champion bag the gold in 1500m at the Asian Championship in Doha in April, which was followed by another gold at the Folksam Grand Prix in Sollentuna, Sweden, in June, in which Sindhu ran her season’s best (4:12:65s).
6. Rahi Sarnobat
This Indian pistol shooter from Kolhapur, Maharashtra, already has many momentous victories to her credit. She was the first Indian shooter to qualify for the 25 meters pistol shooting event in the Olympics 2012. In 2013, Sarnobat was the first Indian pistol shooter to win gold in the World Cup, and in 2018, she became the first Indian woman pistol shooter to win gold at the Asian Games. Adding to this list of golds, in May 2019, Sarnobat won the gold medal at the World Cup held in Munich, Germany, and has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
7. Vinesh Phogat
Vinesh Phogat comes from a family of successful female wrestlers who have carved a niche for themselves in a typically male-dominated sport. Vinesh Phogat has been the first Indian woman wrestler to win gold both in the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. The Arjuna Awardee won three consecutive gold medals in 2019 in Asian Wrestling Championships, in Yasar Dogu International, and in Poland Open Wrestling Tournament respectively. She sealed the year by bagging bronze at the Wrestling World Championship. She also became the first Indian wrestler to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Additionally, Phogat also became the first Indian athlete to be nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sports Awards.
8. Komalika Bari
Komalika Bari is a seventeen years old archer from Jharkhand. Bari, who had begun training with the professional recurve bows only in 2016, won her first gold medal at the World Archery Youth Championship, held in Madrid in August, 2019. This makes her the third Indian to win the gold medal at the World Archery Youth Championships.
9. Harmanpreet Kaur
Harmanpreet Kaur is an allrounder in the Indian women’s cricket team. When the entire country was rejoicing in the victories of the Indian men’s cricket team, Harmanpreet Kaur was silently doing the country proud, one momentous victory at a time. In 2018, she was the first woman in India to score a century in a Women’s Twenty20 International match, and in October 2019, she became the first Indian cricketer to play in 100 international Twenty20 matches. She was also recommended for Padmashri in 2019.
10. Mithali Dorai Raj
Mithali Raj is the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team. The Padma Shri and Arjuna Awardee has been considered to be one of the greatest female cricketers. In fact, she is the highest run scorer in international women’s cricket, and the first player to score seven consecutive 50s in ODIs. In February 2019, she became the first woman to play in 200 ODI matches, and in October 2019, she became the only female cricketer to have played ODI cricket for over two decades.
11. Apurvi Chandela
Apurvi Chandela is an Indian sport shooter from Jaipur, Rajasthan. She plays in the 10 metre air rifle events. Having won bronze in the 2018 Asian Games, Chandela took a gigantic leap in 2019, and bagged three gold medals in one year. She won two gold medals in women’s 10 metre air rifle at the Delhi World Cup held in February and at the ISSF World Cup held in Munich in May. In September, she won gold in the 10m air rifle mixed team event along with Deepak Kumar at the ISSF World Cup held in Rio de Janeiro.
12. Manu Bhaker
Manu Bhaker is also an Indian sport shooter. She had won two gold medals at the 2018 ISSF World Cup at the age of sixteen, making her the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup. She continued her winning streak in 2019 as well with four golds in the mixed 10m air pistol event at four ISSF World Cups, which she won along with her partner, Saurabh Chaudhry. Additionally, she bagged a gold in the 10m women’s air pistol event at the ISSF held in Putian, China. She also won two golds at the Asian Shooting Championship held in Doha.
13. Annu Rani
Annu Rani is an Indian javelin thrower. She became a national record holder in March 2019 with a record distance of 62.34 m. She is also the first Indian woman to cross a distance of 60m in javelin throw. 2019 also witnessed Rani’s two great achievements. She won silver at the Asian Athletics Championship held in Qatar in April, and bronze at Ostrava Golden Spike Athletics Meet in Czech Republic which was a part of the IAAF World Challenge Meetings.
This is by no means an exhaustive or representative list. Suggestions to add to the list are welcome in the comments section.