5 gifts Indian sports fans got from Santa Claus in 2021
It has been a pretty magical and bountiful year for Indian sports fans with medals and trophies - we take a moment to thank Santa Claus for such priceless gifts!
The bells are jingling and the spirit of Christmas is tingling as Santa Claus comes dashing on his sleigh. With Santa arriving it also means that another year is cruising to an end and it's time to look back and appreciate the magical moments that the year was gifted with and for the Indian sports fan, it has been a particularly rewarding year where Father Claus has been generous with his showering of medals and countless trophies.
In the holly-jolly mood of Christmas, The Bridge rewinds to some of the priceless, magical, and beautiful moments that took place in 2021 for the Indian sports fan, where we felt really blessed and lucky to witness them coming alive.
1. Neeraj Chopra's golden moment at the Tokyo Olympics
Perhaps Neeraj Chopra's gold at the Tokyo Olympics is the best thing that Santa Claus could ever gift to an Indian sports fan. In a goosebumps-filled final day of the Tokyo Olympics, Neeraj Chopra delivered and created history with his massive throw of 87.58 m that was enough to secure the coveted gold medal. Becoming the youngest gold medallist and the first one from India in track and field - Neeraj Chopra became an overnight sensation and we cannot thank Santa enough for gifting us with that moment when Neeraj hurled his javelin into the sky and made a mark in the pages of history.
2. PV Sindhu's second Olympic medal, Kidambi Srikanth's silver at the World Championships
A little before Neeraj Chopra donned the headlines, badminton queen and 5-time World Championships medallist PV Sindhu increased her legendary status in the sport by getting a second medal from the Olympics. Having won silver from the 2016 Rio Games, Sindhu had her sight set on gold at Tokyo but after a topsy-turvy match against arch-rival Tai Tzu-ying, Sindhu faced off against China's He Bingjiao for the bronze and of course, she got it - becoming the first Indian woman to win two medals from the Olympics.
While PV Sindhu has always bowled us with her consistency, former World No. 1 player Kidambi Srikanth resurged in 2021 and how! With a number of semi-final appearances, Kidambi Srikanth finally bloomed full force at the World Championships when he claimed the silver medal against Singapore's Loh Kean Yew in a tough final and created history again. To see Srikanth back to his winning ways, looking sharp and confident and teasing us with his nimble net play - thank you, Santa, for giving us our champion back in his revamped form!
3. Manisha Kalyan's goal against Brazil
Santa decided to give us an early morning surprise when the Indian women's football team squared off against Brazil and much to the wonder of everyone, Manisha Kalyan, all of 20, scored a top-class goal against the formidable Brazilian side, during the four-nation tournament in Manaus. Although India went on to lose the match 1-6, it was the first time that the Indian women's team was scoring against a senior Brazilian side and we are still not over the gem of a moment that came our way - such priceless moments the beautiful game gifts us with!
4. The bronze moment for the Indian men's hockey, the win against Australia by the women's hockey team
One of the fairytale stories from the Tokyo Olympics was that of Indian hockey - for both men's and women's teams. While the women's team entered as underdogs in the Olympics, they turned out to be quite the surprise package led by Rani Rampal, Vandana Katariya, Gurjit Kaur. The stunning and most magical moment arrived for the Sjoerd Marjine girls when they took out the formidable Australian women's team in the quarter-finals, holding them off with a 1-0 goal scoreline only, to blast into the semi-finals.
On the other hand, the men's team had a phenomenal run themselves and much of that credit goes to PR 'The Wall' Sreejesh for his expert manning of the goal post. The Indian men's team went on to win the bronze medal as they defeated Germany in a thriller, 5-4. It still gives us goosebumps to remember the moment when the final whistle blew - move over Chak De! India, the Tokyo Olympics excitement cannot be matched!
5. Ajinkya Rahane-led victory against Australia, the film 83
The fact that the future of Indian cricket is in good hands is simply evident from the way Ajinkya Rahane had stepped up to captain the team in the absence of senior players during the Border-Gavaskar trophy against Australia in January 2021. Leading from the front, Rahane helped secure the stunning victory, 2-1, and showed just how much potential the Indian men's cricket team has to shine when the occasion demands it.
As far as we need to thank Santa for the gifts in cricket, 83 has also arrived in time for Christmas and is another goosebumps-filled ride back into the past to the 1983 World Cup win by Kapil Dev & co. A much-awaited sports drama, led by Ranveer Singh in the character of Kapil Dev, the film has opened to rave reviews and has come as the perfect Christmas present for all Indian sports fans.