India made its debut at the Summer Olympics Games in 1920. Since then, the country has competed at every Summer Olympics. But has not had a woman gymnast ever represent the country at the Olympics. Dipa Karmakar has changed the equation and written history. As our country’s men and women athlete gear up for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil from August 5 to 21, we look at the sportswomen who will be representing the country and cheer them on to do their best and bring us the gold.
India will be competing in the following categories – archery, athletics, boxing, field hockey, gymnastics, shooting, table tennis, and wrestling.
Boxing and wrestling are the two sports where there is no women representation. Other players include:
Deepika Kumari – Born in a small city near Ranchi in 1994, Deepika Kumari was interested in archery as a child. She got her first breakthrough in 2005 when she entered Arjun Archery Academy. It was in 2006 when she joined the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur that her professional career began.
In 2012, Deepika went on to become world no. 1 in Women’s Recurve Archery. She is currently ranked World No. 5. She bagged the gold in the 2010 Commonwealth games, and another gold in the women’s team recurve event. She won her first world cup in May 2012, individual stage recurve gold medal at Antalya, Turkey.
She qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. In 2012, she was conferred the Arjuna Award. In 2014, FICCI honored her with the FICCI Sportsperson of the Year Award. In 2016, she was awarded the Padma Shri.
Laxmi Rani Majhi – A recurve archer, Laxmi Rani Majhi was born in 1989. In the 2015 World Archery Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, she won the silver medal. She grew up in Bagula village, in Ghatshila district in Jharkhand.
Rimil Buriuly – Rimil Buriuly is an archer and in 2010 she was part of the Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China. She had participated in many other events at the junior and senior level.
Lalita Babar – Born in 1989, Lalita Babar is long-distance runner and the current Indian national record holder in the 3,000 metres steeplechase. In 2014, she became the hat-trick winner of the Mumbai Marathon. The same year at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, she won the bronze medal in the final breaking the national record held by Sudha Singh. But she was promoted to the silver after the disqualification of the gold medalist Ruth Jebet.
Lalita won the gold at the 2015 Asian Championships clocking 9:34.13 breaking her own personal record, Indian national record and the games record. In this process she qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Currently supported by Anglian Medal Hunt Company, Lalita began her career in track and field athletics as a long-distance runner. Born in Satara a district of Maharashtra, she hails from a farming family. She trains under Nikolai Snesarev.
O. P. Jaish – Jaisha Orchatteri Puthiya Veetil was born in May 1983. This Indian track and field athlete from Kerala is commonly known as O. P. Jaisha. She holds the national record in marathon, which she achieved at 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Currently being supported by JSW Sport under the Sport Excellence Programme, she is also a former national record holder in 3,000 metres steeplechase.
Jaisha walked with a bronze medal in 5,000 metres at the Doha Asiad and also represented India in 2006 Commonwealth Games in Australia. She clinched the bronze at the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea. She won gold in the 5,000 metres at the National Games 2015 held in Kerala.
Khushbir Kaur – Khushbir Kaur hails from Rasulpur Kalan in Amritsar. She is a 20-kilometre race walker who grabbed the limelight when she bagged the 2012 Asian Junior Athletics Champions at Colombo. In 2013, she bettered her own personal national record in Women’s 20 kilometre Walk during Moscow World Championship. She bagged fifth place in the senior Walking Asian Championship in Japan.
Tintu Luka – Awarded the Arjuna Award in 2014, Tintu Lauka hails from Valathode in Kannur from Kerala. She is an Indian track and field athlete who competes in 800 and 400 metres and is a national record holder in the former. She also made it to the 2012 London Olympic Games, and she won silver in the 800 metres sprint at the Asian Games held at Incheon, South Korea. She was also the part of the team that won the Gold Medal in the 4 X 400 metres relay at the 2014 Asian Games.
Kavita Raut – This long distance runner from Nashik, Maharashtra, was born in 1985 and holds the current national record for 10 kilometre road running and in half marathon. At the 2010 Commonwealth Games, she won a bronze in the 10,000 metres race, the first individual track medal by an Indian woman athlete at the Commonwealth Games. In the 2010 Asian Games she also won the silver medal.
Sudha Singh – Born in 1986, this 3,000 metres steeplechase national record holder for seven years won the gold at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, China. She qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, and in 2014 Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea, she finished fourth.
In August 2015, she sealed her spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics when she finished 19th in the women’s marathon event.
Sapna Punia – Sapna Punia is 20-kilometre racewalker who was working with Rajasthan Police. She is one of the two women to qualify for the Rio Olympics in August this year. She finished fourth in the women’s 20 kilometre walk at the Asian Race walking Championships in Japan in March.
Manpreet Kaur –The 25-year-old university level shortputter works with the Railways and is trained by her husband. In 2013, Manpreet Kaur won the gold in the +75 category in the National Weightlifting championship. She broke an 18-year-old national record at the 55th National open Athletics Championship to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Manpreet even took a maternity break but got back to competing and is eyeing the gold this year at the Rio Summer Olympics.
Dipa Karmakar – Dipa Karmakar is the first ever-female gymnast to qualify for the Olympics after 52 years. Born in 1993, she hails from Agartala and is an Indian artistic gymnast. She started practicing gymnastics at the age of 6. In 2014 when she won a bronze at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, she received recognition becoming the first Indian female gymnast to do so in the history of the games. She is also one of the five women that have successfully landed the very difficult Produnova vault in competition, also holding the highest score amongst all (15.100) in her attempt. She finished fifth at the 2015 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships and won a bronze at the Asian Gymnastics Championships both a first for India.
Apurvi Chandela – Born in Jaipur in 1993, Apurvi Chandela has done her graduation from Delhi University. She is an Indian shooter who competes in the 10 metre air rifle event. In 2014 at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games she won the gold medal.
In 2012, Apurvi bagged the gold medal in the 10 metre air rifle event at the National Shooting Championships in New Delhi. In 2014 at the Intershoot Championships at The Hague, she won four medals that included two individual and two team medals.
Ayonika Paul – Ayonika Paul was born in 1992 in Mumbai. She is an Indian shooter who competes in the 10 metres air rifle event. She is also an excellent swimmer. In 2014, she won the bronze medal in ISSF World Cup 2014 in Slovenia and the silver medal in the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Heena Sidhu – Heena Sidhu hails from Patiala and was born in Ludhiana in 1989. This ace India shooter is the first Indian Pistol shooter to be Ranked World no. 1 as on April 2014 by ISSF. She is also the first Indian Pistol shooter to have won a Gold medal in the 2013 ISSF World Cup Finals -Pistol in 10 metre Air Pistol event. After shooter Anjali Bhagwat and Gagan Narang, she became the third Indian shooter to win a Gold medal in a Rifle/Pistol World Cup Finals. In 2014 she was also received the Arjuna Award.
Manika Batra – This 20-year-old from Delhi is one of the top Table Tennis player in the country. She played at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year. In the 12th South Asian Games held early this year in Guwahati, she bagged three gold medals and a silver.
Mouma Das – Mouma Das hails from West Bengal. She was born in 1984 and raised in Kolkata. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2013. This Table Tennis champion holds the record for the most Commonwealth medals by an Indian player and the number is 17 and has taken part in the World Championships a record 15 times.
The Hockey team finished among the top five at the 2014-2015 Women’s FIH Hockey World League Semifinals and through that qualified for the Rio Olympics this year. This victory is significant as it is a historic Olympic comeback for the women’s hockey team after 36 years.
HerStory wishes all these sportswomen all the very best for the challenges that lie before them and we will be rooting for them before and during the Rio Summer Olympic games in August. Follow us for more news on these women at the Rio Olympics.