Make Way for the 'Sporty' Girls!
When it comes to sports, popular notion says it’s a male-dominated area. However, it is fascinating as well as encouraging to note that more and more women are chasing this off beat track as their ticket to success. These are the women who have moved against the tide, defying conventions and setting a new trend. So much so that in today’s date, much of India’s future in the field of sports look up to these women and rests on their laurels. Ladies, take a bow!!
P.T. Usha is regarded as one of the greatest athletes that India has ever produced. She has been associated with Indian athletics since 1979 and is often called the “queen of Indian track and field.” Having a whooping number of 101 international medals so far to her credit, she is nicknamed as the Payyoli Express. During the 1985 Asian Track and Field Meet at Jakarta, Indonesia, she secured 5 gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400 meter sprints, the 400m hurdles, and the 4*400m relay, earning a bronze medal for the latter. Thus, she set a record for most gold medals earned by a female in a single track meet. She has been the recipient of Arjuna Award in 1984, followed by the Best Athlete in Asia Award for many years, and also the World Trophy for Best Athlete for two consecutive years. In 1984, she was also conferred the Padma Sree.
If you know badminton, you know Saina Nehwal. Currently ranked fifth in the world by Badminton World Federation, she is the first Indian woman to reach the singles quarterfinals at the Olympics and the first Indian to win the World Junior Badminton Championships. On 21 June 2009, she became the first Indian to win a BWF Super Series title, the most prominent badminton series of the world by winning the Indonesia Open. Owing to her stupendous contribution to sports, she was awarded the highest national sporting award given to a player, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in August, 2010. She did us immensely proud in the recent London Olympics 2012, in which she became the first Indian ever to win an Olympic medal in badminton. She is at the peak of her career now and we can still look forward to many more of such achievements.
She deals with knights and pawns and does so stunningly well. Koneru Humpi is the Indian chess Grandmaster. Her January 2012 FIDE ELO rating is 2598, making her the third best woman chess-player in the world. In 2001, she won the World Junior Girls Chess Championship. From 2002 to 2998, she was the youngest woman ever to become a Grandmaster. In the Women’s World Chess Championship 2008, she made it to the semifinals.
The list cannot really be completed without mentioning the sensational sports-celebrity of the current generation, Sania Mirza. She is arguably the brightest star to reckon with in the history of Indian tennis, with a career high ranking of 27 in singles and 7 in doubles. She is the first Indian woman player to surpass US$1m in her earnings, first Indian to win a WTA Tour Title, and the third Indian, male or female, to win a Grand Slam title. She has also won the 2012 French Open – Mixed Doubles Event, her second Grand Slam title. She was named one of the ’50 heroes of Asia’ by Time in October 2005, while The Economic Times named her in the list of the ’33 women who made India proud.’
Karnam Malleswari was the first Indian woman to win an Olympic Medal. A renowned weightlifter, she participated in the Asian Championship held in Thailand and won three silver medals. She is the recipient of the prestigious Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, apart from the Padme Sree in 1999 and the Arjuna Award in 1994. She broke her own records in the Senior National Weightlifting Championship in 1997. She has indeed lived up to her name which signifies fame, dignity and pride. She was quoted as saying : "People keep asking me why India does not win more medals. It is all easy to talk about this sitting at big desks in air-conditioned rooms. But winning medals is not easy. We go into the field. We get injured. We can't sleep because of the pain. And then ... “
The constellation of female sportspersons in India has also a number of other bright stars such as Jwala Gutta (badminton), Deepika Kumari (archery), Tejaswini Sawant (shooting), Shikha Tandon (swimming), Mithali Raj (cricket), Anju Bobby George (Track and Field) and many others!!