2016 - The arrival of India's women athletes
Before the 2016 Rio Olympics, India's women athletes didn't have the best of chemistry with Sania Mirza and Sania Nehwal - two of the most prominent names amongst a male-dominant industry.
Even heading into the Rio Games, India's brightest medal prospects were shooter Abhinav Bindra, Saina Nehwal, men's hockey team alongside a few others. Ironically, it was female wrestler Sakshi Malik, who broke the deadlock and earned India its first medal at the most prestigious event in the world.
Though late, it was just the beginning, as PV Sindhu followed up with a silver medal in women's badminton, while gymnast Dipa Karmakar made India world famous in the category of sports for which it wasn't even known for.
This trio’s achievements started a storm across India leaving no corner untouched.
Be it sportspersons, ministers, celebrities from the entertainment or the common people, the women power had shown a glimpse of what it can do if a little trust and faith is shown in them.
Against all odds, competing with male counterparts and India’s deeply entrenched biases against girls, the re-birth of women in Indian sports was witnessed.
2016 has literally marked the arrival of women athletes and the likes of PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar and Deepa Malik deserve a fair amount of credit for the same.
The quartret's road to glory is nothing less than a fairy tale that kids read about in story books and it becomes more special witnessing such stories being built right in front surrounding someone who grew amongst us.
Thanks to their success, now every aspiring sports woman's aspiration weighs a lot more than before. The names Sania Mirza, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik, Aditi Ashok, Mithali Raj, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa are set to be joined with more young female athletes, who would not just want to emulate what their seniors have achieved, but also top it.
For a nation that often makes headlines for violence crime and social injustice against women, a series of world-class performances encapsulated in a single year will make those curbing ambitions of the girls of next generation question their intent. The immense successes a few girls have brought, is worthy of the adulation of millions, not just for their achievements, but also for making people zoom into their stories of social and institutional barriers that they had to overcome to even make it to Rio in the first place.
Evaluating the pride a few girls brought the nation, fighting against all odds, a breeze of self-belief and confidence is spread all across India despite many evaluating this performance below-par considering the expectations. The impact was such that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the achievements as remarkable despite witnessing a return of just two medals.
All in all, it can be said, that India as a sporting nation, has to an extent failed in raising the level of its women athletes. The immense success four women brought in 2016, should be a slap on the face of those who believe that girls just can't excel at sports and would hopefull open up their eyes, and more importantly their brains, to promote the aspiring ones and continue this magical tale.