2023 was a major year for Indian Sports with a superb display at the Asian Games 2022 and multiple World Championships across different sports.
The Bridge picks the moment which will be long in the memory of everyone and defined the year for the Indian sports fans and athletes alike.
1. Neeraj Chopra completes the Javelin Throw at the age of 25
Olympic champion and World Champion Neeraj Chopra entered 2023 with every possible major trophy in the World Athletics barring the title of the World Champion.
Neeraj won the silver medal at the 2022 World Championships and took a moment to look at the colour of the medal during the ceremony. The golden boy of Indian athletics completed the Javelin Throw after winning the gold medal at the 2023 World Championships.
What next for him? It's probably a repeat of the whole medal cabinet.
2. HS Prannoy cries in jubilation after winning the bronze medal at the Asian Games for India
This whole sequence of events deserves a photo story of its own but we will stick to one picture.
Comeback man of Indian badminton in 2023, HS Prannoy had some historic moments including silencing a partisan Danish crowd to defeat Viktor Axelsen, winning his first Super 500 title and the Asian Games medal after a wait of 41 years.
Playing with a back injury in the event, HS Prannoy fought valiantly against Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia in the quarters and returned in the final game to confirm the bronze medal.
As the last shot just dropped beside the sideline, Prannoy fell on the court and jumped to express the jubilation.
An emotional Pullela Gopichand embraced Prannoy making another moment worth gold.
3. Vinesh Phogat clinches on cousin Sangeeta Phogat as Police take action against the protesting wrestlers
2023 was a year marred with the biggest protest led by athletes against an administrator. Prominent Indian wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat, and Sakshi Malik left everything to sit at Jantar Mantar asking for ex-WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh's resignation.
The accusations were very sensitive including sexual harassment. The protest stretched more than two months with back-and-forth between the wrestlers and the government.
While the wrestlers made sure that they didn't make a bad move, the protest ended when the wrestlers decided to march towards the new parliament despite warnings from the government.
The photo was captured when Vinesh Phogat clenched on her cousin Sangeeta Phogat while holding the tiranga while being beaten up by Police.
The picture embarked outrage across the country but the question remains the same, will we learn?
4. Mother of R Praggnanandhaa looks her son with pride after his strong showing at the FIDE World Cup
Russian photographer Maria Emelianova who works as a chess photographer clicked one of the most heartwarming moments of Indian sports in 2023.
Chess prodigy R Praggnanandhaa captured the emotions of the nation with his stellar run in the FIDE Chess World Cup where he finished runner-up and became the second-ever Indian after legendary Vishwanathan Anand to reach the final.
As the Indian prodigy hogged the deserved limelight, his mother R Nagalakshmi stood in the background, away from the attention, looking at her son with a sense of pride.
In her admission, she said, "I was so engrossed in thinking what Praggnanandhaa was up to...that was the only thing which was going on in my mind. Later on, I found those photos had gone viral."
5. Sheetal Devi in her zone at the Para Archery World Championships
16-year-old Indian armless archer Sheetal Devi had the world praising her after the brilliant show at the Para Archery World Championships where she finished with a silver medal.
The archer from Jammu and Kashmir displayed immense grit and perseverance to succeed at the highest level. After her success at the World Championships, Sheetal dominated the Asian Para Games to make her a household name in the country.
With each arrow she releases, she not only hits the target but also breaks stereotypes, defining the brilliant year Indian Sports had.
6. Indian women's boxing rose in 2023 led by Nikhat Zareen
It all came full circle for Nikhat Zareen when she became the 50kg world champion in front of a roaring home crowd at the World Boxing Championships in Delhi.
The poster girl of Indian boxing, Nikhat was part of the crowd when Mary Kom clinched the world title in 2018. In 2023, Nikhat did the same by defending her crown after a tough draw and grueling tournament.
The boxer from Telangana further went on to win a bronze medal at the Asian Games and secured the Paris Olympics quota along with four other boxers.
7. Indian men's hockey team pose after dominating the Asian Games 2022 and securing Paris Olympics
2023 saw one of the finest redemption arcs in Indian Sport.
The Indian men's hockey team was knocked out of the Hockey World Cup 2023 in front of a packed home crowd leaving everyone stunned. Nobody expected the Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist to crumble under pressure.
After a lot of changes and tribulations, under the tutelage of Craig Fulton, the team recovered with a title win at the Asian Champions Trophy and completed the arc with a dominant gold medal win at the 2022 Asian Games.
The team led by Harmanpreet Singh also secured their berth for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.
8. Indian U19 team win first-ever ICC trophy of Women's cricket
Led by Shafali Verma, U19 Indian women's cricket team achieved what the senior women's team has failed to do across the years. The girls won the inaugural T20 World Cup with Shweta Sehrawat, Parshavi Chopra, and Shafali Verma emerging as heroes for India.
They defeated England in the final by seven wickets to clinch the first-ever ICC trophy for any Indian women's cricket team.
The win was followed by a historic Women's Premier League which saw Harmanpreet Kaur lead Mumbai Indians to clinch the title.
9. Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Jena pose with the Indian men's relay team at the Asian Games
Deemed one of the best photos of the year, the Indian men's relay team (Amoj Jacob, Rajesh Ramesh, Md Anas, and Md Ajmal) pose with the javelin throwers Neeraj Chopra and Kishore Kumar Jena.
The photo signified the dominance Indian athletes had at the continental level.
Recalling the moment, Amoj said, "We had finished our race winning the gold medal and we saw Neeraj Bhaiya and Kishore coming towards us as they were cheering. I asked for flags immediately to be able to capture such a beautiful moment."
Indian relay team had one of the finest years with a strong show at the World Championships and Asian Games.
10. From Naihati to Hangzhou- Ayhika and Sutirtha Mukherjee celebrate a historic win at the Asian Games
Popularly known as the 'Mukherjee Sisters', the paddler duo of Ayhika Mukherjee and Sutirtha Mukherjee from Naihati, West Bengal created history after they defeated world no. 2 Meng Cheng and Wang Yidi (11-5, 11-5, 5-11, 11-9) to leave the crowd stunned and Chinese coach Mal Lin frustrated.
The duo created history by becoming the first-ever Indian women's duo to win a medal at the continental showpiece.
While it is very tough to choose ten pictures in a country that shows up with a new story or a hero even now and then, we hope these pictures will let you live the joy of these moments.
Happy New Year 2024 from everyone at The Bridge.