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Top breakthrough performances of Indian athletes in 2023

The Bridge looks at the top breakthrough performances by Indian athletes across different sports in 2023.

Top breakthrough performances of Indian athletes in 2023

Top Performers of the year 2023


Deepanshu Jain

Updated: 29 Dec 2023 10:56 AM GMT

2023 has proved to be one of the most successful years for Indian sports. It saw India making its best-ever performance at the Asian Games and Asian Para Games after managing more than 100 medals in each of the showpieces.

Next year is a leap year, which means another Olympic year is on our horizon. The athletes who displayed impressive performances in 2023 will look to continue in the same vein next year as well.

Here, The Bridge is looking at the top breakthrough performances by Indian athletes across different sports in the year 2023.

Satwik Sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty - Badminton

The dynamic duo of Satwik and Chirag touched new heights in the year 2023. They became the first-ever Indian shuttlers to clinch a badminton gold medal at the Asian Games and also the first men's doubles pair from India to attain a world no.1 ranking.

They reached the world no.1 ranking on October 10 after that historic triumph at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. They also won their first-ever gold medal at the Badminton Asia Championships earlier this year.

They also had a great year at the BWF World Tour circuit, having reached the final of four tournaments and winning the title in three of those events, including their first-ever Super-1000 title at the Indonesia Open after beating the World Champions in the final.

Sheetal Devi - Para Archery

Teenage sensation Sheetal Devi is the world's first female armless archer. She had an outstanding year, which took her to the top of world rankings in the women's compound open category after her gold medal-winning performance at the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China.

The 16-year-old started her international career in 2023. But she hasn't taken much time to adjust to the alien field and won a silver medal at her first-ever international tournament. She took part in four tournaments this year and played the individual final in each of them.

Sheetal Devi has already won ten international medals in such a short time, including an individual silver medal at the world championships. She was also conferred with the Best Youth Athlete by the Asian Paralympic Committee earlier this year for her outstanding performances.

R Vaishali - Chess

It has been an amazing year for Vaishali as she won the FIDE Women's Grand Swiss in November and qualified for the upcoming Women's Candidates, the final contest to determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship. She finished off the year in the best way possible by attaining the Grandmaster crown.

Vaishali became the third female Indian chess player to achieve the Grandmaster title after completing her third GM norm at Qatar Masters 2023 and attaining a rating of 2500. Before Vaishali, Harika was the last Indian woman to achieve the GM title 12 years ago in 2011.

She also took a big leap in world rankings and jumped more than 25 places this year. She started the year being ranked as world no.41, and now she is in the top 15 of the world rankings. She also played a crucial part in the Indian team winning the silver medal at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Sift Kaur Samra - Shooting

Sift Kaur Samra has had an outstanding year in 2023. She became the Asian Games gold medallist after breaking a world record in the final of the women's 50m rifle 3 positions category. This was India's first-ever gold medal in the Asian Games in this category.

She also won a Paris Olympics quota place for India after reaching the final at the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. She continued her good form and then topped the qualifications at the Asian Championships.

Sift added another feather to her cap after winning the Universiade title in Chengdu, China. Sift's dazzling performances throughout the year enabled her to become the newest entrant to the list of Arjun awardees in 2023.

Aditi Gopichand Swami - Archery

Aditi Swami, a 17-year-old greenhorn of Indian archery, was one of the standout performers this year. She became the youngest world champion in the history of the sport after winning the gold medal at the Archery World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

Although it was her debut event, she showed remarkable composure and stability throughout the tournament to etch her name in the pages of history. She also won the compound women's team gold at this championships.

Aditi won eight medals this year, including a bronze medal in the women's compound individual category at the Asian Games. She also became the first player ever to bag both the World Youth Championships and World Championships titles.

Thulasimathi Murugesan - Para Badminton

Thulasimathi is an emerging star in Indian para-badminton. She made her international debut this year and has already burst into the top five of world rankings in the women's singles SU5 category. She played eight tournaments this year and reached the final in all eight events, emerging as champion in four finals.

Thulasimathi also won three medals at the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, including a historical gold medal in the women's singles category. Thanks to her impressive performances, BWF had nominated her for the Best Female Para-Badminton Player of the Year award.

She will be a top contender going into 2024, which will accommodate two biggest events for para-badminton players, the World Championships and the pinnacle Paris Paralympics.

Kishore Jena - Javelin Throw

The depth of the Indian javelin throw keeps on increasing. Kishore Jena is the latest addition to the growing list of India's talent pool in javelin throw. Kishore is the second Indian javelin thrower to win an Olympic quota place after he crossed the qualifying mark of 85.5m at the Asian Games.

Along with that feat, he also won a silver with an effort of 87.54m and helped India grab the top two places at the podium in the men's javelin throw final in Hangzhou. Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal.

Kishore also registered a top-five finish on his debut at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August. At the end of the year, he was conferred with the Arjuna Award.

Antim Panghal - Wrestling

Antim Panghal is the only Indian wrestler so far to win a Paris Olympic quota place for India. She achieved the feat after winning a bronze medal at the World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia. She was also the only medallist for India at the event.

She also won a bronze medal at the Asian Games in a competitive field in the women's freestyle 53kg category. Earlier this year, she won a silver medal at the Asian Championships as well.

She is also a two-time defending U20 world champion. She defended her gold medal in 2023. Antim Panghal was named 'Women's Rising Star of the Year' in the UWW Awards.

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