Kolkata, Jan 1, 2020-
While all eyes will be on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and how Indian athletes fare in the mother of all competitions, the year ahead will also be about looking at sportspersons who have made a mark in 2019 and will look to continue in the same vein at the start of the new decade.
We takes a look at five sportspersons cutting across disciplines who can make an impact this year:
Shreyas Iyer (cricket)
The much debated No. 4 conundrum for Team India in the limited overs set-up finally came to a stop as Shreyas Iyer made the position his with some stellar knocks in 2019. The Delhi Capitals captain played with maturity and looked sharp on the field as well, prompting head coach Ravi Shastri to say that their No.4 headache looks to be over. Iyer looks set to only get better in 2020 as India prepare for the T20 World Cup slated to be played in Australia in October.
Saurabh Chaudhary (shooting)
Saurabh Chaudhary showed he has the appetite for success as he scaled new heights by smashing the world record on his way to a gold medal at the ISSF World Cup, thus securing a Tokyo Olympics quota also. Saurabh also won the mixed pair event alongside Manu Bhaker, another young prodigy.
He also finished No. 1 at the Munich World Cup, recorded another podium finish (bronze) in the individual event of the Rio de Janeiro World Cup, won silver at Asian Shooting Championships and another mixed event alongside Yashaswini Singh Deswal. And thus, this young shooter from Uttar Pradesh will be expected to bring more laurels to the country, both at the Olympics and other events.
Vinesh Phogat (wrestling)
Vinesh Phogat underlined her potential with a bronze medal in the World Wrestling Championships after she registered an emphatic 4-1 victory over Greece’s Maria Prevolaraki in Russia.
That made her the first Indian wrestler to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. She also became the first Indian woman wrestler to make the cut through Worlds, a feat which only strengthens her stakes at the Tokyo Olympics. With Sakshi Malik struggling, Vinesh will be India’s best hope for glory in Tokyo.
Amit Panghal (boxing)
Amit Panghal’s consistency can only be matched by the legendary MC Mary Kom. The boxer shifted from 48kg to 51kg but that too did not dampen his spirits as the 23-year-old fetched India its first ever silver at the men’s world championships.
Panghal’s 2019 gold rush began in the tournament, which was also his last competition in the 49kg category. Since moving to 52kg, he won gold at the Asian Championships and is a bright prospect going into Tokyo 2020.
G. Sathiyan (table tennis)
Table tennis doesn’t have a bright history for India at the Olympics but the sport is making giant strides riding Sathiyan’s coattails in the past year or so. 2019 saw India’s highest ranked paddler come of age and take over the mantle from Sharath Kamal.
Sathiyan became the first Indian to break into the top-25 of the ITTF world rankings when he rose to 24 in July. He also downed quite a few top-20 players, including World No. 5 and young Japanese teenage sensation Harimoto Tomokazu.
Sathiyan’s sixth-place finish in his first-ever Asian Cup also helped him qualify for the World Cup where he made the main draw after topping his group. Come Tokyo 2020, it remains to be seen whether they make it but the year ahead looks more than promising for Sathiyan.