Asian Games 2023: Greatest women sportspersons in Indian contingent
From having one individual woman medallist at the 1951 Asian Games to having 22 individual women medallists at the 2018 Asian Games, Indian sports has come a long way. Who will the heroes be in 2023?
We know how Indian women sportspersons have shattered the stereotypes, risen from the ground to glory, and won tons of medals to boost the country's name. From having one individual woman medallist (Rohan Mistry - Silver in women's 100m) at the 1951 Asian Games, the first edition, to having 22 individual women medallists at the 2018 Asian Games, Indian sports has come a long way.
In recent years especially, women sportspersons from all over the country have been making rapid strides in underrated sports as well as famous sports, paving their way themselves even when there exists no precedents.
With the 2023 Asian Games beginning on September 23, here’s the list of the best women athletes India have fielded in Hangzhou:
PV Sindhu - Considered one of the most successful shuttlers in the world, the 28-year-old has marked her name in almost all the world tournaments multiple times be it the Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, and Asian Games. She has a bronze from the 2014 Games and a silver from the 2018 Games. She would be aiming to win her third consecutive medal and further upgrade to gold.
Swapna Barman - Last Asian Games’ gold medalist Barman is a heptathlete, one rare sport where India enjoyed no success before this pathbreaker. Barman also conquered tough family conditions and unusual obstacles to rapidly making her name in the Asian circuit by winning the Asian Games and the Asian Championship. She would be defending her title at this Asian Games and would be expecting to bring home a medal again.
Savita Punia - The current Indian team’s captain and goalkeeper Punia made her debut in 2011. She has been a significant player of the team in crucial tournaments such as the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and Asia Cup. The team won a bronze in 2014 and silver in 2018 Asian Games. The leading lady has her eyes set on the gold. She will know that an Asian Games women's team’s gold will be seen as a landmark event and will give rise to another hockey wave.
Dipika Pallikal Karthik - Pallikal is one of India's best and most experienced squash players. She is the first Indian to break into the top 10 in the PSA Women's rankings. She has 11 major international titles, out of which 4 are from the Asian Games. The four-time Asian Games medalist (3 bronze and 1 silver) is one of the most successful women players for India in Asiad history. She would be playing mixed doubles and women’s team events at this Asian Games, which means a double chance, possibly even for a first-ever gold.
Joshna Chinappa - Along with Pallikal, Chinappa is another celebrated squash player. The pair won India's first-ever Commonwealth Games medal in the sport. Chinappa has 2 silvers and 2 golds at the Asian Games. She would be playing for the singles and the women’s team event at this Asian Games.
Manika Batra - The 28-year-old table tennis player brought a new wave of success in 2018, when she won a mixed doubles bronze at the previous edition of the Asian Games. She could bring home a maximum of three medals at this Asian Games as she would be competing in singles, women’s teams, and mixed doubles events.
Harmanpreet Kaur, the Indian cricket skipper, is a world-dominating batter. Even as she is banned till the medal match, Smriti Mandhana will be leading the team, another of the world's best.
A few more rising medal contenders to cheer for in the upcoming Asian Games are Manu Bhaker (Olympian Shooter), Bhavani Devi (Olympian Sabre Fencer), Lovlina Borgohain (Olympic Bronze Medalist Boxer), Saikhom Mirabai Chanu (CWG Gold Medalist Weightlifter), Bindyarani Devi (CWG Silver Medalist Weightlifter), Parul Chaudhary (National Record holder Steeplechase Athlete), Manpreet Kaur (Olympic Shot Putter) and Nethra Kumanan (Olympian Sailor).
Then there are Antim Panghal, Tulika Maan, Aditi Ashok, Jyothi Yarraji, Aditi Swami, Rhythm Sangwan, Sreeja Akula, and Nikhat Zareen, young champion women who would be putting their first feet at hopefully long Asian Games journeys.
An Asian Games record by an Indian Woman athlete you don't want to miss: PT Usha, also known as the Payyoli Express, has competed in five Asiads and has taken home at least one medal in four of them. Usha is the most decorated Indian sportsperson in Asian Games history with 11 medals to her name. Usha dominated the multi-sport competition like no other with a career lasting over two decades.