New Delhi: A truly
spectacular year for Indian sport that brought record medal hauls
at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, 2010 ended with Saina Nehwal capping a phenomenal run with the fourth badminton
Super Series title of her career in Hong Kong.
It was India's most successful Commonwealth Games as it finished
second in the medal count, nosing ahead of England with Saina's
sure shot gold and an unexpected one from Jwala Gutta and Ashwini
Ponappa in the women's doubles.
India won 38 gold, 27 silver and 36 bronze, crossing the 100 medal
mark for the first time. It was a vast improvement on their
previous best of 69 at Manchester in 2002.
Australia was at the top with 177 medals (74-55-48) while England
with 142 medals (37-59-46) lost out the second place to India.
Amazingly, the Indian athletes replicated their performance at the
Guangzhou Asian Games within three weeks, returning with a record
64 medals -- 14 gold, 17 silver and 33 bronze. Only thrice since
the Games began in Delhi in 1951 have India crossed the 50 medal
It looked unlikely that so many medals would fall in India's lap
at Guangzhou after the disappointment in the first week with the
shooters performing below-par. Pankaj Advani opened India's gold
count winning the English billiards before India won an unexpected
five gold medals, besides two silver and four bronze, from the
track and field.
The Commonwealth Games performance in track and field raised
expectations from Indian athletes. India won two gold, three
silver and seven bronze medals in athletics in New Delhi.
One of the best moments for Indian sport was when Krishna Poonia,
Harwant Kaur and Seema Antil won the gold, silver and bronze in
women's discus and the tricolour went up on all the three flag
posts amid euphoric scenes at the refurbished, floodlit Jawaharlal
At Guangzhou, it was an unbelievable start to athletics. Preeja
Sreedharan from Kerala and Nashik girl Kavita Raut finished
one-two in the 10,000 metres, leaving behind home favourite Bai
Xue of China, and stunning the 80,000-capacity Guangdong Olympic
Sudha Singh of Uttar Pradesh then clinched the 3,000 metres
steeplechase gold, also a first-ever for India.
Joseph Abraham and Ashwini Chidananda, in particular, raised quite
a few eyebrows as they raced to glory in the men's and women's
400m hurdles. Ashwini, the girl from Udupi, clocked her personal
best (56.15) to win the event P.T. Usha last clinched for India in
The medals that will stand out are Bajrang Lal Takhar's maiden
rowing gold in Asian Games, Ashish Kumar's first gymnastics bronze
in Delhi and Virdhawal Khade's bronze, the first in swimming since
Khazan Singh Tokas won the silver at the Seoul Asian Games in
The shooters could not sustain their form and had only one gold
from Ronjan Singh Sodhi in the double trap in Guangzhou. Gagan
Narang, the Commonwealth Games star, who beat Beijing Olympic
champion Abhinav Bindra in Delhi en route his four gold, could
only get two silver medals.
Boxing was another discipline where India flourished. Vijender
Singh made up for his bronze-medal finish at the Delhi Games with
a gold at Guangzhou. Vikas Krishan was the other boxer to clinch a
gold, stunning defending champion Qing Hu of China in Asian Games.
Somdev Devvarman, who created history at the CWG winning the
Games' first singles gold in tennis, did not disappoint in
Guangzhou, winning the singles gold and adding the doubles gold
Without Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, the Indians did
exceedingly well to grab five medals from the tennis court
(2-1-2). Sania Mirza showed signs of resurgence as she finished
the runner-up in the mixed doubles with Vishnu Vardhan and settled
for bronze in the singles.
In hockey, India warmed the hearts by reaching the final of the
Commonwealth Games, though they were drubbed by Australia in the
final. They played well at Guangzhou in the league stage, but lost
the semifinal against Malaysia and had to settle for the bronze.
The archers also joined the party. Young Deepika Kumari won the
individual recurve gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and
Tarundeep Rai clinched the first-ever silver medal by an Indian
archer in the Asian Games.
The wrestlers came up with a good show in the Commonwealth Games
winning 10 gold, five silver and four bronze but could win only
three bronze at the Asian Games.
The year will also go down as a watershed for Saina Nehwal, who
won three consecutive titles- the Indian Open, the Indonesian Open
and the Singapore Open. She also achieved the number two ranking
in the singles charts and ended the year on a high with the Hong
Kong Super Series.
Also, in tennis, India clawed back from 0-2 down to beat Brazil
3-2 and retain their World Group berth in the Davis Cup.
Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Sushil Kumar became the first
Indian grappler to win a World Championship gold. Sushil lived up
to his billing and won a gold at the Commonwealth Games. However,
he was unlucky to miss the Asian Games with an injury.
Tejaswini Sawant became the first Indian female World Champion in
shooting (50m rifle prone event).
Also, Viswanathan Anand successfully defended his World Chess
Championship title while woman boxer M.C. Mary Kom won her fifth
consecutive World title.
(Avishek Roy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)