Leveling up the playing field - Indian sportswomen

By Kirti Punia|9th Mar 2015
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The so-called weaker sex is making some strong headlines in the last two decades in the world of sports. Anjum Chopra, Karnam Mallewari, Mary Kom, Sania Mirza, and Saina Nehwal have become household names. It wasn’t until 2000 that an Indian woman won an Olympic medal. But things have changed for the better in the last two decades.

Here are some Indian sportswomen who are leveling up the playing field in various sports disciplines, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. We salute the dedication, determination and passion for sports of each and every girl playing in the field and inspiring millions of other women to go out and follow their calling.

Archery – Deepika Kumari 


She won gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in women’s in individual recurve eventShe won gold medal in the 2010 Commonwealth Games in women’s team recurve event.

She was honored with Arjuna Award in the year 2012 and was honored with FICCI Sportsperson of the Year Award in 2014.


Athlete – Anju Bobby George


She is the first Indian athlete ever to win a medal in a World Championships in Athletics. She won the bronze medal in Long Jump at the 2003 World Championships in Athletics in Paris.

She has won a gold medal in Long Jump at World Athletics Final at Monte Carlo in 2005, at Asian Championships at Incheon in 2005 and also at Asian Games at Busan in 2002.


Badminton – Saina Nehwal 


Saina has so many medals to her name that it would be difficult to count them all here. She also has a number of firsts to her name. Yesterday, she made history when she became the first Indian woman to enter All England final.She is the first Indian to win a medal in Badminton at the Olympics. She won the Bronze medal at the London Olympics 2012.

She is the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships.

She is the first Indian to win a Super Series tournament, by winning the Indonesia Open in 2009.


Boxing – Mary Kom


Mary is a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.

She is the first Indian woman boxer to get a Gold Medal in the Asian Games in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea.

She won the bronze medal at 2012 Summer Olympics and is the only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for it.

She has been awarded the Arjuna Award in 2003, the Padma Shri in 2010 and the Padma Bhushan in 2013.

Chess – Tania Sachdev


She achieved her first international title when she was just eight.In 2005, she became the eighth Indian Woman Grandmaster, won the national Indian Women Championship in 2006 and 2007 and topped the Asian Chess Championship in 2008.

She was conferred with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 2009.


Cricket – Anjum Chopra


She became Captain of Indian team in 2002. In this first series for her as skipper, she led India to a win over England.

Under her captaincy in 2005 World Cup in South Africa, India reached the finals of the world cup for the first time.

Anjum has played 6 world cups for India. She is the 1st player to play 100 ODI’s for India.

She was awarded Padma Shri in 2014 and Arjuna Award in 2007.


Discus Throw – Krishna Poonia


She is the first Indian woman athlete to win the Gold Medal in Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi.She is the first Indian woman to win a gold medal in track and field events of Commonwealth games and the first Indian to win a gold medal in such events after Milkha Singh.

She became only the sixth Indian to make it to the final round of track and field events in an Olympics. 


Golf – Sharmilla Nicollet

Sharmila Nicollet of India

She is the youngest Indian golfer to qualify for Ladies European Tour.

She is the second Indian to earn a full card on the Ladies European Tour.

Nicollet was also the youngest lady golfer to win the All-India Ladies Amateur Championship in 2007–2008.

She qualified with a full tour card for the Ladies European Tour in 2012, being the youngest Indian golfer to qualify.


Hockey – Mamta Kharab 


She is the current captain of the Indian women’s hockey team.During the 2002 Commonwealth Games, she scored the winning goal which gave India the Gold.

She was declared the best player and the best scorer in the Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament held in Malaysia, where India won the bronze medal.

She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2003.


Tennis – Sania Mirza 


She is the highest ranked female player ever from India.

She became Asia’s no 1 player in 2008.

She is the third Indian woman in the Open Era to feature and win a round at a Grand Slam tournament.

She became the first ever Indian woman to win a WTA title.

She was awarded Arjuna Award in 2004 and the Padma Shri in 2006.


Shooting – Anjali Bhagwat

Anjali Bhagwat

She became the World Number One in 10m Air Rifle in 2002 and won her first World Cup Final in 2003.

She is the only Indian to win the ISSF Champions’ Trophy in Air Rifle Men and Women mixed event at Munich in 2002.

She was the first Indian women shooter who became a finalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and in the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, she became the first Indian woman shooter to get gold and a silver medal in the Sports 3P and Air Rifle events respectively.


Squash – Dipika Pallikal

Dipika Pallikal

She is the first Indian woman to break into the top 10 in the WSA rankings.At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, she along with Joshna Chinappa won the squash women’s doubles gold medal, making it India’s first ever Commonwealth Games medal in the sport.

She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2012 and the Padma Shri in 2014.


Weight Lifting – Karnam Malleswari 

Karnam Malleswari

She is the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal. She won a bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sydney.

She was awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award for the year 1995-1996.

She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1994 and the Padma Shri in 1999.


Wrestling – Geetika Jakhar 

Geetika Jakhar

She is the first women wrestler in India to be awarded as the Best Wrestler of Commonwealth Games in 2005.She was awarded the Bhim Award in 2003, the Arjuna Award in 2006, Rajiv Gandhi Award in 2007 and the Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award in 2009.

She is the first Indian women wrestler to get Arjuna Award for wrestling.


Featured image credits : Shutterstock

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