Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Toast to a Golden Year for Indian Sports

A Toast to a Golden Year for Indian Sports
2010 proved to be a glorious year for Indian sports, with excellent performances by Indian athletes at home and at international events
Indian cricket fans are still celebrating Wednesday win against South Africa in Durban. But it hasn’t just been a great year for Indian cricket: Sports enthusiasts would agree that this has been a spectacular year for Indian sports in general. Indian sportsmen recorded some of their best performances this year in a wide range of disciplines, including at Delhi’s Commonwealth Games and at the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
As 2010 draws to an end, India Real Time looks back at five sports highlights of the year – some that brought glory to India, while others hugely enjoyed by the Indian sports fans:
1. Waka Waka time: After years of preparation, South Africa was the proud hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2010 held in June. While the vuvuzelas and Shakira’s football anthem kept the tempo high, this year’s World Cup will also be remembered for the late Paul the Octopus. Hailed as an oracle, Paul predicted the outcome of many key matches, including Spain’s ultimate victory against the Netherlands. From rooting for their favorites in the Twitter-world to following the matches closely, Indians made sure they were always on top of the tournament – especially in Kolkata, where people breath football.
2. From filth to gold: Leaking toilets, filthy accommodation for athletes and a collapsed bridge. Before the start of Delhi Commonwealth Games in October, reports of mismanagement left many outside observers appalled.  But the grandeur of the opening ceremony and standard of the sporting event itself almost made up for it. Indian athletes secured a grand total of 38 gold medals, coming second only to Australia in the overall tally. They impressed the world – and even their fellow countrymen – with their outstanding performance in shooting and wrestling. The 11th Commonwealth Games will be remembered for the great achievement of India’s women athletes there – a reputation they lived up to at the Asian Games as well. And who can forget India’s thrashing of  both Pakistan and England in a series of spectacular hockey matches!. Of course, many will also remember the major faux pas of Suresh Kalmadi, the chief of the Games’ Organizing Committee, who publicly addressed Prince Charles’ wife Camilla as Lady Diana. For the long run, a real winner was the city’s improved infrastructure.
3. Saina wins all: Badminton sensation Saina Nehwal gave her career’s best this year after winning three super series in July and winning yet another series in Hong Kong in December. She also clinched gold at the Commonwealth Games after defeating Malaysia’s Mew Choo Wong in a fiercely contested three-game match for the women’s singles title. She was also conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award this year, the country’s highest sporting honor.
4. Not Doosra, we are the Pehla! (Not second, we are the first): After 77 years, the Indian Test cricket team climbed to the number one spot in international cricket rankings, an achievement they cemented with a 87-run victory on the fourth day of the Test match against South Africa Wednesday. Earlier in December, India’s ace batsman Sachin Tendulkar recently set a new record by becoming the first batsman to make 50 Test centuries. He’s also the first cricketer to have made 200 runs in a one-day international, which he did in February. Other cricket stars include Harbhajan Singh who in February became one to the fastest players to achieve 350 test wickets. And in December, Rahul ”Wall” Dravid reached the 12,000th test-run milestone in a match against South Africa in Centurion.
5. Feast in the East: At the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in November  Indian sportsmen proved their mettle, bringing back home 14 gold, 17 silver and 33 bronze medals –  landing sixth in the overall medal tally. Athletes Ashwini Chidananda and Joseph Abraham stood out for their golden double in  women’s and men’s 400-meter hurdles. But the brightest star was 25-year old Somdev Devvarman who lived up to his successes at the Commonwealth Games and helped secure India’s first-ever gold in men’s singles tennis.

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