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2017: A fruitful 365 days for Indian sports

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After a bittersweet 2016, when Indian athletes could return with just two medals from the Rio Olympics, the year gone by was replete with sporting highlights across disciplines. Here’s a look at the best moments for Indian sports in 2017
Shooting: After the dejection of the Rio Olympics, where India’s shooting contingent returned empty-handed, marksmen from the country had a fruitful year. At the season-ending ISSF World Cup Final, India finished seventh on the table after winning one gold, one silver and a bronze medal. While the pairing of Jitu Rai and Heena Sidhu got India the gold medal at the mixed team 10m air pistol, Sangram Dahiya clinched silver in men’s double trap. Amanpreet Singh took home bronze in men’s 50m pistol to give India their best-ever result in the annual ISSF shooting centrepiece. Rai had also won gold at the 50m pistol event and bronze in 10m air pistol at February’s New Delhi World Cup.
India’s Ankur Mittal had a year to remember, winning silver medal at the prestigious ISSF World Championships in Moscow, besides a gold at the Acapulco World Cup, another gold at the Asian Championships, a silver at the New Delhi World Cup, and a fourth-place finish at the year-ending World Cup Finals.
Boxing: At the Asian Boxing Championships for men, held in April-May in Tashkent, India’s boxers returned home with a haul of four medals – while Shiva Thapa and Sumit Sangwan won silver, Amit Panghal and Vikas Krishan claimed bronze medals. What was missing was a gold.
That elusive gold came, albeit in the women’s Asian Championships, when five-time world champion Mary Kom clinched her fifth continental gold at the age of 35. The event also saw India winning a silver medal, thanks to Sonia Lather, and five bronze medals.
The year also saw success in the men’s category at the World Championships in Hamburg, when Gaurav Bidhuri claimed a bronze medal in the 56kg category. Bidhuri had only made the cut due to a last-minute wildcard handed out by the Asian Boxing Confederation. Outside the boxing ring too, there was reason to celebrate for the country as India hosted their first major tournament since 2006 – the AIBA Women’s Youth Boxing World Championships in Guwahati.
The event was an indicator that the sport is back on track in India after the last few turmoil-filled years. The fact that the hosts ended the competition with five golds (Ankushita Boro, Nitu, Jyoti, Sakshi, Shashi) and two bronze medals (Neha Yadav and Anupama) also bodes well for the future of Indian boxing.
Vijender Singh
In professional boxing too, Vijender Singh ensured the year was a happy one. The boxer fought twice in the year – against China’s Zulpikar Maimaitiali and then against Ghana’s Ernest Azamu in December – and won on both occasions. In the fight against Maimaitiali in August, he retained his World Boxing Organisation (WBO) Asia Pacific Super Middleweight title, and also earned the WBO Oriental title. He defended both the titles against Amuzu.
Paralympians: A lot had been expected from the country’s paralympians in 2017 after they won six medals at the Rio Paralympics a year back. And they sure did deliver. One of the biggest moments to remember was the gold medal visually impaired swimmer Kanchanmala Pande won in December at the World Para Swimming Championships held in Mexico. The Nagpur swimmer’s victory came in the 200 meters medley event in the S-11 category.
Earlier, India had ended their campaign at the World Para Athletics Championships with an unprecedented five medals. Sundar Gurjar had earned India a gold in the men’s javelin throw F-46 event, while Amit Kumar Saroha and Karam Jyoti claimed silver and bronze in the men’s club throw F-51 and women’s discus throw F-55 events respectively. India also won a silver and bronze in the men’s T-42 category high jump event, through Sharad Kumar and Varun Singh Bhati respectively.
Weightlifting: India’s Mirabai Chanu ended a 22 year long wait for india for a gold medal at the World Weightlifting Championships by clinching gold in the 48 kg category. The 23-year-old lifted 85 kg in snatch and 109kg in clean and jerk, which brought her total to an impressive 194 kg at USA’s Anaheim in November. The medal earned her redemption after she had failed to get a total at the Rio Olympics in 2016. The medal was also a shot in the arm for a sport which is in the news for the wrong reasons more often that not.
Pankaj Advani
Pankaj Advani also claimed his 17th and 18th world titles after winning the IBSF World Snooker Championship and the IBSF World Billiards Championship in November. Of course, these were not the only moments to celebrate for India in 2017 on the sporting field.
India’s men’s and women’s hockey teams made us proud over the year. The men’s team finished the year with a bronze medal at the Hockey World League Finals despite seeing their coach Roelant Oltmans being sacked for the team’s indifferent performances. The women’s team, meanwhile, won their first Asia Cup title in 13 years.
Viswanathan Anand showed his critics, and the world that even at 48 he is a force to be reckoned with by clinching gold in the rapid event and bronze in the blitz category of the King Salman World Rapid and Blitz Championship. Otherwise, too, there was cause to celebrate India’s domination of the 64 squares. The Indian cricket team too had a year full of highs. Not to mention, the barnstorming year India captain Virat Kohli had. In football, the country tasted the experience of hosting its first-ever FIFA tournament, in the form of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, and the jubilation of an Indian scoring the country’s first-ever goal at a FIFA tournament. Here’s what else happened in Indian football in 2017. Indian golfers too made sure the Tricolour flew high in various parts of the world.

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