Intro: 2023 proved to be yet another year when individual athletes and teams across different sports experienced some incredible highs and heartbreaking lows.
India fall at final hurdle after dream run at cricket WC
Rohit Sharma-led India produced one of the best performances by any side in the group stages of an ODI World Cup, winning 10 matches in a row to reach the final.
At the summit clash, the Men in Blue were put in on a slow surface and struggled their way to 240 runs, which was overhauled by Australia thanks to a century from Travis Head who helped his side win by six wickets and break a billion hearts.
Virat Kohli attains ODI batting immortality
On November 15 2013, Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed for the final time in international cricket in Mumbai. Exactly 10 years later, Virat Kohli broke Tendulkar’s record for the most 50-over centuries, when he got to his 50th ODI hundred in the semifinal clash against New Zealand at the same venue.
Neeraj Chopra becomes world champion
Neeraj Chopra had already put himself in contention as arguably India’s greatest ever individual athlete by winning the gold medal in the javelin throw event at the Tokyo Olympics. He added yet another feather to his cap in 2023 when he became the first Indian athlete to be crowned world champion with a 88.17m effort at the competition held in Budapest.
Djokovic crosses Nadal, equals all-time record
With Roger Federer retiring in 2022 and Rafael Nadal out injured since the start of the year, Novak Djokovic had the chance to make 2023 his own year. He started the year by equalling Nadal’s tally of 22 Grand Slams, then went past him at Roland Garros and ended the year by winning the US Open to end 2023 with 24 Grand Slams and equalling Margaret Court’s record for most singles slams won by any player in tennis history.
India’s record tally at Asian Games
The 19th Asian Games was held from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province. India recorded their biggest medal haul in the history of the Asian Games, winning 107 medals at the continental showpiece event. Not only that, but the number of gold medals at 29 was also the highest compared to any previous edition by nearly double the margin, with the previous best being 15, achieved in the 1982 Asian Games held in New Delhi. India finished fourth in the medals table behind powerhouses China, Japan and Korea.
Satwik-Chirag scale the heights of Badminton
The Indian men’s doubles duo of Satwiksiaraj Rankidredy and Chirag Shetty continued their upward journey in world Badminton as they rewrote the history books. Whatever they won, they were the first Indian doubles pair to do that. However, they did certain things not achieved even by Singles players before them.
Satwik and Chirag became the first Indian to win the Badminton Asia Championships gold, the Indonesian Open and the gold medal at the Asian Games. They failed to reach the medal round of the World Badminton Championships but became the first Indian men’s doubles pair to be ranked number one in the world. Their nomination for the Khel Ratna was the icing on the cake.
Wrestlers on the street
For wrestling, it was a year marred by controversies. Top Indian male and female wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phigat hit the streets, demanding the removal of Brijbhushan Sharan Singh as the president of the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI).
They raised the issue of rampant misuse of power by the WFI president at the start of the year, and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur took cognizance of the problem and assured the aggrieved wrestlers of action. Seeing nothing happening, they hit the streets again and demanded justice from the court, which ordered the immediate filing of an FIR against Singh.
Once the Singh issue died down, it came to the selection criteria used by the WFI to select wrestlers for big events like the Olympics and the Asian Games. The practice won the medal in the previous edition and was first chosen to represent the country again.
However, it was changed to the medal winner facing a challenger in a one-off battle to decide who goes through. The challenger would be chosen after national trials involving all national-level wrestlers in that weight category.
Praggnanandhaa in Chess World Cup final
Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa became the first Indian since Viswanathan Anand in 2002 to reach the Chess World Cup medal round. The teenager then beat Fabiano Caruana in the semi-final to set up a date with Magnus Carlsen for the final, where he lost out in the final rapid draw after playing two draws in the classical format.
However, the victory put him in the Candidate’s Tournament 2024, where a win could give him a shot at the prestigious World Championships title against Ding Laren of China.
The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup
It took place in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, marking the first time for the tournament to be held in the southern hemisphere, to feature 32 teams, and to have more than one host nation.
Spain edged England 1-0 in the final, becoming the second country after Germany to have won both men’s and women’s World Cup titles.
According to FIFA, the tournament had almost two million spectators inside stadiums and two billion watching all over the world. This file photo taken on Aug. 20, 2023 shows team Spain celebrating during the awarding ceremony of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sydney, Australia.