Over the years, we have seen the nation develop an interest in sports like boxing, wrestling, weightlifting and track and field. The credit for this needs Indian athletes who got medals for the country in international sporting events like Olympics, Commonwealth Games etc. If it weren’t for the likes of PV Sindhu, MC Mary Kom, Neeraj Chopra, Ravi Kumar Dahiya, Mirabai Chanu, etc. ., we would always be a nation where the sport was defined by our love for the game of cricket.
Indian female athletes have also added to the impressive number of medals won by Indian athletes over the past few years. Due to their impressive performances, the sport is no longer seen as a male domain and parents encourage their daughters to pursue a career in athletics. Be it boxing, wrestling, table tennis or gymnastics, young Indian women are venturing into sports through different games, raising hopes for a golden sporting future for the country.
While we still celebrate the country’s established sportswomen, for their groundbreaking journey that shattered stereotypes like Ladkiyan kushti nahi ladtiwe should also encourage the emerging faces of Indian athletics who promise to achieve new heights and records for the country.
National Sports Day 2022: Promising female athletes in India
Shilky Devi Hemam
Shilky Devi Hemam was the youngest player in the Asian Women’s Football Cup in 2022. The 16-year-old is a defender for Manipur and was also the top scorer in the South Asian Federation of Women’s U-15 Championship. soccer. Born in the Moirang village of Manipur, Hemam was encouraged by her father to pursue the game and she appears to be on her way to bringing much-needed recognition to Indian women’s football. Learn more about Hemam’s journey here.
On August 27 this year, 15-year-old Linthoi Chanambam made history by winning India’s first ever gold medal in judo across all age categories at the 2022 World Cadet Championships, which took place held in Sarjevo. The young judoka from Manipur won the 57 kg category. She has also won gold medals at National Sub-Junior Championships and Asian Cadet and Junior Judo Championships before. The teenager is already aiming for Olympic glory. “I will do my best to win a medal in Paris, but if it’s not in Paris, I’m sure I can do it in the 2028 Olympics,” she said.
This 18-year-old long jumper from Jhansi has been ranked among the top 20 long jumpers in the world, from under 18 until she crosses the age threshold. Singh also holds the national record for the longest under-18 jump and has broken his own record three times, landing at the top. She has been a gold medalist at the National Junior Athletics Championships over the years and also won silver at the U20 World Championships in Athletics in 2021. Check out her inspiring journey here.
Hailing from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, the 17-year-old sprinter is a promising name in India’s athletics talent pool. She gave a glimpse of her abilities at the 2022 World U20 Athletics Championships by becoming the first Indian to win two medals at the same U-20 world event by scoring a bronze in the 400m and a silver in the 4 x 400m. Chaudhary, who salute from a farming family, had to overcome many obstacles, including financial challenges, to get to where she is today.
One of India’s top female chess players and national chess championship ace Divya Deshmukh from Maharashtra is India’s 21st female grandmaster. She won the 47th National Women’s Chess Championship and became the fourth youngest player in history to win a senior title at just 16 years old. She is also the No. 1 player in the under-18 rankings and ranks fifth in under-20 chess categories in India.
The 14-year-old from Delhi has become the youngest Indian player to compete at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 in any sport. She was the number 1 squash player in Asia and Europe in the U-13 category and brought India their first gold medal in history at the U-11 British Open squash tournament in 2019 and also was the first Indian to win the US Open U-15 in 2021. Learn more about this superb squash player here.
Hailing from West Bengal, the 18-year-old gymnast won a gold medal at the Khelo India Youth Games in the under-17 women’s artistic gymnastics category. Samanta went on to be part of the six-member squad representing India at the World Cups held in Baku, Egypt and Azerbaijan. Samanta trained Dipa Karmakar’s trainer Bisweshar Nandi for three years.
India’s Best Table Tennis player in the U-15 category, Jennifer Varghese, 13, from Nagpur, Maharashtra. After a stellar performance at national and state championships, Varghese made her international debut in 2022 in Tunis and instantly earned her place among the top 20 players in the world with a gold medal. In her second international match, she defeated world number 4 Bianca Mei Rosu.
Suggested readings: CWG 2022: Victories for Indian sportswomen offers a positive narrative on inclusivity