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Asian domination, Doping taint- Here is recap of 2023 for Indian Athletics

Indian athletics dominated at the continental level while coming up with some notice worthy performances in 2023.

Asian domination, Doping taint- Here is recap of 2023 for Indian Athletics

Indian 400x4 Relay team, javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena pose for picture after winning medals at Asian Games. (Source: AFI)


Navneet Oberoi

Published: 30 Dec 2023 1:29 PM GMT

Indian athletics enjoyed a remarkable year in 2023 with a rise of domination at the Asian level while Javelin Throw saw Indians dominating at the world level.

Indian athletes produced mesmerizing performances at the Asian Games and Asian Para Games while Javelin Throwers dominated at the World Athletics Championships.

Contrary to past struggles in Olympic qualifications and lower expectations, India has undergone significant evolution. Anticipating the 2024 Paris Olympics, India aims to sustain this growth and illuminate the international stage.

Let's delve into the unfolding of Indian athletics in 2023 as The Bridge explores the year's highlights.

Domination at the Asian level

The Hangzhou Asian Games marked India's most successful campaign, securing over a hundred medals for the first time. With a total of 28 golds, 38 silver, and 41 bronze medals, India claimed 107 medals, finishing fourth in the overall tally, with the majority of these achievements coming from Athletics.

The Indian Track and Field contingent played a significant role, earning 6 golds, 14 silver, and 9 bronze medals. This positioned them as the third-best contingent by rank and the second in terms of the number of medals. This performance surpassed the 2018 Jakarta Games, where India won 20 medals, including 8 golds, and doubled the success of the 2014 Incheon Games, where only 13 medals were secured, with just 2 golds.

Gold medals at the Hangzhou Games were clinched by Neeraj Chopra, Avinash Sable, Tajinderpal Singh Toor, and the men's 4x400m relay team. Women athletes Annu Rani and Parul Choudhary secured gold in Javelin and 5,000m events. Harmilan Bains earned two silver medals in 800m and 1500m, while Parul Choudhary added a silver in the 3000m Steeple Chase event.

At the Asian Athletics Championships in Bangkok, India won a total of 31 medals including six gold, 16 silver, and nine bronze medals to stamp the domination.

A mixed show at the World Championships

Indian athletes had a mixed showing at the World Athletics Championships as the likes of Murali Sreeshankar, Avinash Sable, and Jeswin Aldrin disappointed while men's 4x400m relay team, Parul Chaudhary and the javelin throwers exceeded the expectations.

India won the solitary medal in the form of a gold medal in the Javelin Throw won by Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra with a throw of 88.17m. Neighbors Pakistan enjoyed their first-ever World medal as Arshad Nadeem made a fiery comeback to win the silver medal.

A historic moment unfolded as Kishore Jena and DP Manu secured the fifth and sixth positions, respectively, marking the first instance of India having three athletes in the top six at a world athletics championship.

The quartet of Muhammed Anas Yahiya, Amoj Jacob, Muhammed Ajmal, and Rajesh Ramesh, the Indian relay team made a significant impact on an event traditionally dominated by powerhouses such as the USA, Jamaica, and Great Britain.

The Indian relay squad secured an impressive second place behind the world record-holding USA, setting an Asian record time of 2:59.05 in the heats and making history by reaching the final for the first time. This achievement surpassed both Great Britain (3rd; 2:59.42) and Jamaica (5th; 2:59.82)

Despite narrowly missing a medal and finishing fifth in the final, the Indian quartet's outstanding performance garnered widespread attention. Later in the year, the same team clinched the gold medal at the Asian Games.

Big names caught in Doping

Two of the most celebrated female athletes in India, Dutee Chand and Hima Das were caught in the mud of Doping. Dutee Chand was banned for failing the dope test earlier in the year while Hima Das failed to comply with the whereabouts and was banned.

Indian athletics continued to dip further into the doping menace as the medalists at the Inter-State Nationals were banned by NADA for doping. The likes of Bhawna Jat, Anjali Devi, Archana Suseendran, and Karanvir Singh were caught in Doping and banned.

In the recently concluded National Games at Goa, nine athletes were caught doping adding more to the tainted list.

Another talking point of 2023 was a race in the Delhi Athletics Meet where only one finalist turned up for 100m after news of the presence of NADA officials broke out. Later the sprinter Lalith Kumar was also banned for Doping.

Year of Kishore Kumar Jena and Tejaswin Shankar

While Neeraj Chopra completed the Javelin Throw with the World Championship title in 2023, the year belonged to his long-time friend Tejaswin Shankar and fellow Javelin Thrower Kishore Kumar Jena for different reasons.

Silver medalist at the Asian Games, Kishore Kumar Jena was not even reckoning for the tournament when the year started. An unfortunate injury to Rohit Yadav and his improved performance made it possible for the athlete from Odisha.

Starting the year with a personal best below 80m, Kishore rose phenomenally to improve every time and breach the 85.5m Olympic qualification mark at the Asian Games. The moment was historic as Kishore and Neeraj stood together on the podium in Hangzhou, China.

Indian high jump prodigy Tejaswin Shankar returned from the US and came with an aspiration to break the long-standing National record in Decathlon and bring the spot

Tejaswin started with a gold medal at the Inter-State Nationals and then grabbed another medal at the Asian Athletics Championships. The 25-year-old athlete broke the National record at the Asian Games and won the silver medal completing his goal.

With the Olympics in sight for the next year, Indian athletics has a lot to deliver in 2024.

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