From the biggest victories to the close losses, the country has opened its eyes to a multitude of sporting moments in the decade that makes you sit on the skies or humbles you by throwing you right down to the ground. Sometimes it is a few tears here and there, hysterical crying, shouting, as emotional as one may find it. While we don’t usually celebrate tears rolling down our face, there exist moments that have proven to make us cry more than others. The Bridge retraces India’s sporting history as we explore ten biggest heartbreaking moments in the decade.
*Not based on rankings. The numbers are in no particular order.
#10 Too Close Yet Too Far
December 13, last year. Indian hockey fans may perhaps look back at this and cry to this day! India bowed out of the World Cup with a narrow 1-2 loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinal at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. Had India won the match, it would have been the first time since India lifted the title in 1975 that it had a shot at finishing in the last four. Days after its exit, the then coach Harendra Singh slammed the poor standard of umpiring that saw the home team fail to qualify for the semi-finals. Singh was soon summoned by the FIH Technical Delegate for a ‘disciplinary hearing’ in view of his criticism.
#9 Won Silver, Lost Gold!
There are perhaps only a few to match that of youngster Esow’s brilliance. He became the first Indian to win a medal at the Junior Track Cycling World Championships, missing out on the gold after finishing just 0.017 seconds behind gold medallist Jakub Stastny in the race. This was India’s first-ever medal at the World Cycling Championships. This year he teamed up with L Ronaldo Singh, Y Rojit Singh, and Jemsh Singh, to win a historic first men’s team sprint gold at the event. This was India’s first gold at a world cycling event, senior or junior.
#8 Run-Out Of A No-Ball?
M.S. Dhoni’s dismissal was the turning point of India vs New Zealand semi-final clash on July 11 this year. There were some who still believed India could pull off a miracle with Dhoni on the crease but his dismissal only put a dent to any of those. It was pin-drop silence in the crowd after he was run out as his wicket was the final nail in the coffin for India in their massive 240-run chase to make it to the finals of the World Cup. India was jolted very early in their 240-run chase with departures of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and K L Rahul inside the initial four overs.
A controversy erupted when it came to notice that there were six New Zealand fielders outside the 30 yards while only five are allowed. Dhoni would still have been run out had the umpire called it a no-ball. But a few believed Dhoni would certainly not have taken the bumpy ride and pushed for a second run had he known it was a no-ball.
#7 Silver Girl Sindhu
Ace Indian shuttler P V Sindhu’s silver streak deserves a special mention here. While a tired Sindhu would try her hardest each time she stepped on the court, a flurry of questions kept floating about her losses in the finals -- big and small. With seven finals lost in-a-row since she won the Korean Open last year, it was only a matter of time before she bridged the narrowest of gaps and became the new world champion in badminton toppling Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara in the finals of BWF World Championship this year in Switzerland. Sindhu bagged the elusive gold medal after her a long wait which resulted in her securing four medals earlier — bronze in 2013, 2014 and silver in 2017 and 2018.
#6 Saina's Rio Heartbreak
In one of the major disappointments for the Indian Olympic contingent, medal prospect Saina Nehwal was knocked out of the Rio Olympics 2016 after suffering a straight-game defeat against lower-ranked Maria Ulitina of Ukraine in her second Group G match. Following her shocking group league exit, Saina cited her right knee injury as the reason which affected her performance on-court. "I had knee pain and could not give my best. It was heavily strapped, and I tried my best. My movements were not smooth and were painful. It's a heartbreaking loss. I also feel very bad about it," Saina told PTI moments after the match. The injury, according to her, happened during training before Rio and got worse during the match.
#5 Heading To The Exit Door
Indian archers' dismal show came to a halt at the London Olympics in 2012 as World No. 1 and medal prospect Deepika Kumari bowed out of the women's individual event after suffering an upset loss against Amy Oliver of Great Britain in the opening round of the tournament on August 1. Both ended with identical scores of 104, but Oliver managed to seal the game with three points. Having won only one set, the double gold medallist of Commonwealth Games Deepika failed to hit a single perfect ten in four sets.
#4 Second Loss For Mithali And Co.
The Indian women’s cricket team collapsed after a formidable England side prevailed over the Mithali-led Indian side on July 24, 2017, as Indian women suffered their second loss in the final of the World Cup. England’s Anya Shrubsole bowled an amazing spell with six wickets giving away only 46 runs, the best haul by a bowler in the final of any ICC event. England clinched the title in style after beating India by meagre nine runs at the Lord’s.
Bowler Jhulan Goswami picked up two wickets for India but in vain. With the early departure of Smriti Mandhana, Punam and Harmanpreet’s fifties did keep India in the hunt for some time. But a gritty Shrubsole just got the better of the Indians and had the last laugh.
#3 Not Even A Bronze, Bindra!
Ace Indian shooter Abhinav Bindra couldn’t bag a second Olympic medal as he missed a medal by a whisker in a tense shoot-off in the men’s 10m Air Rifle event at Rio Olympics 2016. Bindra was deprived of a fairytale ending to his glorious career after he became the fifth shooter to be eliminated in the race for the podium finish. Bindra, who was playing in his final Olympics, could have won a bronze had he won the shoot-off. He became the first individual athlete from India to win gold in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
#2 Kabaddi Champion No More
India’s dominance in the world of kabaddi came to a screeching halt at the Asian Games last year as the country lost to Iran in the semis. Having won every gold medal since 1990, the Indians went into the match as overwhelming favourites. But the ultimate 18-27 result made it clear that India is perhaps no longer the undisputed champion of a game that originated in the country. While those like Deepak Hooda and Pardeep Narwal have lit up PKL matches time and again, it seemed the stardom had its own way of backfiring when it mattered the most, at the Asian Games. Their domination did last for straight seven editions, but for the eighth season defeat, the Indians have only themselves to blame.
#1 Don't Mess With Knee Injury, It Can Cost You Olympic Medal!
Amid celebrations over Sakshi Malik’s bronze medal feat, Vinesh Phogat’s campaign at the 2016 Rio Olympics ended not a very smooth note as she injured her knee against China’s Sun Yanan in the women’s freestyle 48kg quarterfinal event. Vinesh opened with a point but her opponent was quick to clinch two points with a single-leg takedown. An injured Vinesh lay flat on the ground, writhing in pain, before leaving the arena on a stretcher. Although the doctors announced her quick recovery within two weeks, the injury cost her medal hopes at the Olympics. Vinesh, who is still rankled by the Rio nightmare, has secured herself another shot for Olympic glory at Tokyo Olympics 2020 after winning a bronze medal at the recently-held World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Which moment do you think you will shed a tear at without others having to judge you? Tell us.