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Children’s Day 2020:10 sportspersons who made their debut before turning 18 years old

Children’s Day 2020:10 sportspersons who made their debut before turning 18 years old

Abhijit Nair

Published: 14 Nov 2020 5:20 AM GMT

Today marks the birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister – Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru or as famously known as The Children’s Day. On the day when young children are celebrated all across India, we look into some of the prominent Indian sportspersons who made their debut as child or teen in Olympic Sports:

Leander Paes

The legendary Leander Paes made his senior debut in a Davis Cup match between India and Japan. He was three month shy of turning seventeen when he made his debut in the year 1990. It was a doubles match where he partnered with Zeeshan Ali to defeat Shuzo Matsuoka and Shigeru Ota in five sets.

Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza made her debut in the senior circuit in the year 2001. Widely regarded as the best ever Indian female tennis player, Mirza made her debut as a fifteen year old in an ITF event in Chandigarh. The youngster beat fellow Indian Geeta Manohar 6-0, 6-1 in straight sets to kick start her career.

Abhinav Bindra

The first Indian to win an individual Olympic gold, Abhinav Bindra was a star right from his childhood. He even participated in the 2000 Sydney Olympics before turning eighteen years old. In fact, Bindra was the youngest member of the Indian Olympic contingent that year and took the stage in the 10m air rifle event just 10 days before his eighteenth birthday.

Rani Rampal

At just 25 years of age Rani Rampal is already the captain and a legend in Indian hockey. She made her international debut in the year 2009 as a fourteen year old. Such was the young Rani’s influence in India’s performance that she made her World Cup debut in the following year as a fifteen year old and scored seven goals in six matches.

Sania Nehwal

The former world number 1, Saina Nehwal entered the senior international circuit as a sixteen year old in the year 2006. At the age of sixteen, Nehwal became the youngest ever Asian player to win a 4-star tournament when she clinched the Philippines Open beating the likes of XuHuaiwenand Julia Wong Pei Xian.

PV Sindhu

PV Sindhu entered the senior international circuit in 2010 as a fifteen year old. The current world champion went on to win a silver medal at Iran Fajr International Badminton Championships the same year. The following year though saw Sindhu coming of age winning the Maldives International Challenge, Indonesia International Challenge and the Swiss International.

Manu Bhaker

At just eighteen years of age, Manu Bhaker is already a medal hope in shooting for India during the Tokyo Olympics. The youngster rose to fame when she became the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the ISSF Shooting World Cup at the age of sixteen in the year 2018. Manu has since grown leap and bounds and will enter the Olympics next year with loads of expectations on her shoulders.

Saurabh Chaudhary

Another rising young shooter, Saurabh Chaudhary has shown maturity beyond years in his short international career. Currently just eighteen years of age, Saurabh is the only shooter to have a gold medal against his name in ISSF World Cup, ISSF World Championships, Asian Games and Asian Air Gun Championships. At the age of just sixteen, he became the youngest Indian to win a gold medal at the Asian Games.

Sandeep Singh

The ‘Soorma’ from Punjab, Sandeep Singh is the youngest ever player to represent the Indian hockey team. He achieved this feat in the year 2004 when he made his debut against Germany in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup aged 17 years 10 months and 11 days. Sandeep later went on the captain the Indian team and also had a Bollywood biopic made after him.

Deepika Kumari

The star archer of India, Deepika Kumari made her senior debut somewhere around 2010 as a sixteen year old. During the same year, she bagged two gold medals – one each in the individual recurve and women’s team event and a bronze in the Asian Games. Deepika was also ranked world number one and conferred with the Arjuna Award when she was just eighteen years old in the year 2012.

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